Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Tales of turrón

Turrón is made from almonds, honey, egg whites and sugar. It's an Alicante speciality which is now produced all over Spain. Turrón, has no specific English equivalent, though for shorthand I often describe it as nougat. It's not much like the pink and white chewy nougat I knew as a youngster though. Turrón is associated with the town of Jijona which is about 70 km up the road from us. I wrote about it ages ago in a blog.

So we were going back to the UK for Christmas. I'd made a pact with my family about not exchanging gifts. We did, nonetheless, take a few Spanish Christmas goodies - mantecados, polvorones and of course turrón. I'd forgotten that I hadn't made the same pact with Maggie's family who showered me with expensive gifts whilst I had neither socks nor bubble bath in trade - it was terribly embarrassing.

The make of turrón that Maggie bought was called Pico which is a good quality if everyday brand - she bought the hard stuff and the soft one. It's maybe a bit less thn half the price of the best brands which can cost as much as 9€ for a 300g bar. It was traditional enough though for me to notice something that I've missed in ten years of wolfing it down. I realised they had different names. The crunchy stuff was called Turrón de Alicante and the sort that oozes almond oil was Turrón de Jijona. Nowadays there are tens of flavours of "turrón" most of which have nothing to do with the original concept. So we have chocolate flavour, milk flavour, crema catalana flavour, strawberry flavour etcetera - the list is nearly endless. It was seeing the two traditional types side by side in matcing packets that made me realise the simple difference.

For some now forgotten reason turrón came up in the conversation with our builders. They sang the praises of a turrón produced by a local factory which processes nuts. It's obvious enough when you think about it. They work with almonds, there is lots of local honey and chickens live everywhere so the raw materials were to hand.

Intrigued I bought some when I went to pick up a gas cylinder (excellent isn't it? - nuts and butane in the same shop) and I notice that it has the quality mark to say that it's made to the standards of some regulatory body. That was news to me too and it explains why some of the most famous brands are made in places like Santander and Gijón which are miles from Alicante.

The trouble is I can't eat it. I gained two and a half kilos in the four days in the UK. It's time for penance - the hair shirt and flagellation of portion control. Mind you Christmas is far from over in Spain and just a little each day couldn't do much harm could it?

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