When people think of Spain, they can mention some of the most famous cities, such as Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia or Sevilla. However, few globetrotters know a small Spanish region called Murcia. I will tell you the treasures that you can find there and why it's a perfect tourist destination.
Gastronomy secrets you must know about Murcia.
1. An eternal springtime.
This region is quite warm and sunny all year: 10ºC in Winter - 20 ºC in Spring. Summer is the hottest month, but there are many places to relieve the high temperatures. For example, many public swimming pools are open. They have some services: lifeguard, cafeteria, gardens, and hammocks. So, a Spanish word you must learn is "piscina". I must mention an alternative and healthy way to spend a relaxing day under the water: Archena health resort. Here you are some useful words:
- albornoz - bath robe
- masaje - massage
- terapia - therapy
- agua caliente - hot water
- agua fría - cool water.
- reserva - hotel booking
- habitación individual - single room
- habitación doble - double room
- desayuno - breakfast
- comida - lunch
- cena - dinner
- buffet libre - free buffet
- médico - doctor
2. The coast.
For sea sport lovers, Murcia has a natural salty lake called Mar Menor. Some lessons are offered by many nautical schools for a reduced price.
Here you are some Spanish vocabulary about Sports:
- submarinismo - diving
- vela - sailing
- windsurf - windsurf
- piragüismo - canoeing
- Surfskate - surf skate
3. For happy stomachs.
Jumilla and Yecla are situated to the North-East of the region. It's a high plateau planted with vineyards from whose fruit the area's renowned wines are produced. Murcia does not have one typical dish, it has loads! Try rice with vegetables, seafood, or meat. The products are really delicious and they've got high quality. If you love roast lamb, try a tasty rustic recipe which is very traditional in the river Segura valley. Just hearing it sizzle when it comes out of the oven is enough to make you hungry. When you visit the coast of Murcia and book at a restaurant, don't forget to ask caldero. Here cauldrons are used by sailors rather than by witches. This is one of the Murcia's most typical dishes: rice cooked in a cauldron of rockfish and dried pepper broth. That's usually served in separate dishes, with the rice on one side and the fish on the other, and is perfect for recharging your batteries after a day at the beach. The olla gitana (" gypsy pot") is a caloric value recipe to battle the bad weather. We can say that it's a dish which wins over everyone who tries it with its ion of local garden produce: chickpeas, Totana pumpkin, green beans, pears, ripe tomatoes, and onion, seasoned with paprika, saffron, and fresh mint. A taste of the Segura river valley on your plate.
The good weather and tradition of cultural blending mean that the people of Murcia like going out meeting people and enjoying a lively atmosphere. One of those meeting places are the bars, where you may enjoy a virtually endless variety of tapas ("little snacks").
- Ensalada murciana. Known in some parts as "mojete", this is the perfect combination between fresh and preserved, farm, field, and sea. Peeled tomatoes from a can, hard-boiled egg, spring onions, olives and tuna. Delicious!
- Marinera. One of Murcia's flagships. Russian salad on a bread-stick ring topped with an anchovy. If you prefer it without the anchovy, then, it's called "bicicleta" (bicycle). The trick is to eat it without destroying the whole thing.
- Zarangollo. Courgettes, onions, and eggs scrambled up with olive oil. Eggs and veg come together with one common aim: to bring enjoyment to your taste buds.
- Pisto murciano. Made with fried peppers and aubergine with tomato. Eat it alone or with a piece of Spanish omelette (tortilla). Absolutely scrumptious!
- Pastel de carne (meat cake) is a terrible temptation for your stomach. It's made from puff pastry, meat, chorizo (a type of spicy red sausage), hard-boiled egg and spices, and is considered to be the typical delicacy of our region. Its lid, which consists of concentric circles of puff pastry, resembles a felled tree trunk revealing its history within.
- Pastel de Cierva. The name of this cake is due to the inventor of autogiro (a primitive helicopter). It's a mix of sweet and savoury flavours, made even more delicious with the addition of chicken.
The region of Murcia's desserts and confectionary are a real temptation for those with a sweet tooth. Honey, flour, eggs, milk or sugar; fried, fresh or baked; you'll find thousands of sweet combinations that will have you licking your lips and your fingers with pleasure.
- Paparajote. This is a nice and sweet surprise for foreigners. It's a lemon tree leaf battered in a dough of flour, egg, milk and shavings of lemon, which is fried and then dusted in cinnamon and sugar. Accompanied by a small glass of sweet wine it is a real sin. However, don't be deceived, the leaf cannot be eaten!
- Pan de Calatrava. This delicious dessert was born out of the Muslim influence in the region, involvin humble ingredients and simple preparation but with spectacular results. It only uses crème caramel, caramel and day-old bread or cakes but this mixture of textures and flavours work really well together, giving it a place in people's preferences.
- Tocino de cielo. This melt-in-the-mouth delicacy is perfect even for those with the greatest sweet-tooth, and uniquely in this region. Lemon and cinnamon to the syrup are added. Although it's a delight by itself, it's normally accompanied by fruit, whipped cream or ice cream.
- Asiático. That's an original and delicious coffee with condensed milk and brandy, accompanied by a few drops of Liquor 43, cinnamon, lemon zest and coffee beans. Typical of Cartagena and the surrounding region, they say that the Filipinos who came to the port in merchants' ships introduced the recipe. It's served in a unique glass: the Asian cup, so original that it's become one of the most popular souvenirs of Cartagena city.
How to learn your first Spanish words and practice them in Murcia.
Now you know a little bit about Murcia and its gastronomy, you've got a good reason to arrange a nice trip and practice your first words in Spanish.
It is not exactly an online lesson, but it could be a little snack. I want to propose an immersion exercise through a podcast, a transcription paper and a guide to start to learn Spanish. To complete your learning experience, listen to my podcast Why should we speak in Spanish?
There you will hear how to pronounce the name of the food and dishes I’ve described in this post and greetings in Spanish.