Gastronomy in the Noroeste region is blessed by its location on the Iberian Peninsula. It is an irrigated land, given its position in the Vega del Segura. The gastronomy is part of its traditional culture. Its food is based on its native products and its climate, being integrated into holiday celebrations.
Its orchards are close to the Moratalla, Quipar, and Argos rivers, and the area is also a fruit and cereal producer. Its indigenous flavour is influenced by Castilla-La Mancha, due to its border links.
One of the basic ingredients for its recipes is wheat flour. The flour’s history dates back to Arab culture, which introduced it to the region thanks to the characteristics of the land. The flour is used to prepare white bread and also “gachasmigas”, a traditionally humble but extremely tasty meal. “Gachasmigas” are prepared differently in each municipality of the province.
In the case of the Noroeste region, in the municipality of Calasparra, “gachasmigas” are known as “Jarullo” and are distinguished by the fact that they contain fennel and “collejas”.
In addition, “migas ruleras” is a traditional dish that has been passed down from generation to generation.
The cultivation of rice in the Iberian peninsula has its origin in the times of the Muslim conquest. The municipality of Calasparra, given its privileged situation, was used for rice cultivation from the 17th century, although some historians maintain that rice cultivation began in the 15th century with the repopulation programs of the Christian kings.
In Spain, there are only three types of rice with Denomination of Origin: Delta del Ebro, Valencia, and Calasparra, the latter recognized in 1986. The Calasparra Denomination of Origin is regulated by the Regulatory Council of the D.O.P. "CALASPARRA" and includes the municipalities of Calasparra and Moratalla in Murcia and Hellin in Albacete.
The cultivated rice varieties are "Bomba" and "Balilla × Sollana", which, although they require a longer cooking time, are ideal for cooking because the grain is more impregnated with flavours.
Gastronomy in the Noroeste region recognizes rice as a traditional, favourite, and indigenous dish. In particular with rabbit and snails, a typical dish in the Noroeste region of Murcia, and always present at its festivities.
This is not surprising, as written and oral histories indicate that, given the large number of rabbits, the Romans gave Spain the name of "The Island of Rabbits"—hence, the presence of rabbits in the gastronomy of the Noroeste region.
“Andrajos” is a stew whose base is rabbit broth, onion, tomato, and pepper sauce, to which are added strips of flour that end in the shape of fabrics (hence its name).
Other recipes pay tribute to the predilection for rice, especially in Calasparra: rice with beans, rice with chickpeas, tripe and lamb hooves, and even mashed rice.
Regarding the food served at festivities and celebrations, we must remember the slaughter of the pig, from which different sausages and other foods are made that will be dried out and consumed during winter and the Christmas holidays.
The typical sweet consumed during Christmas is “Toñas”, which is an exquisite native sweet. In Carnival, “Fritillas” are made—a kind of fried cake with a hole in the centre.
In the gastronomy of the Noroeste region during Easter, fish cannot be missed. A typical dish is “Potaje de Vigilia”, which consists of cod meatballs. Sweets include “Fried Flowers” and the “Panecicos de Gloria”.
There is a long tradition of “Caldera”, prepared with bull meat. It is one of the oldest recipes, prepared in the 18th century with beef, vegetables, and collards. Its recipes have been obtained in subsequent years, enriched with aubergines, ham, and pumpkin.
As a refreshing drink for the summer, “Cuerva”, a kind of “sangria” that is prepared with wine, lemon, peach, and sugar, cannot be left out.
The cuisine is simple, with indigenous products grown by families and prepared with great imagination. Throughout history, these products have shaped gastronomy in the Noroeste region that is enjoyed today.