Mar Azul Tomato (Spain)

If you were asked to name your absolute favorite food in the world, what do you think it would be? An ingredient? Something seasonal? Something you have only found overseas? A pastry?

For me, it’s the tomato. There are so many varieties and hybrids to keep me occupied — e.g. cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, pear tomatoes, kumatoes, and baconatoes (I wish) — not to mention they’re healthy, can be eaten as is or turned into sauces, and even work as a hand fruit.

Barcelona supermarket tomatoes
My Tomato Paradise, Ametller Origen Supermarket, Barcelona, Spain

A hand fruit? But tomatoes aren’t all sweet. For the savory ones, I might eat them plain, put some seasoned salt and pepper on them, maybe even a little olive oil. Occasionally though, I encounter a sweet one that rivals baklava, raspberry chocolate cake, or any processed dessert.

In this case, I’m talking about the tomate Mar azul (aka MarAzul).

mar azul tomato spain
Mar Azul Tomato, FROIZ Supermarket, Vigo, Spain

Created in the beautiful Mediterranean climate of southeastern Spain (link in Spanish), the Mar azul (in Spanish, blue sea) gets its particularly unusual purple-blue color due to the significant amount of anthocyaninsantioxidants that give some fruit/berries their red, blue, purple, or black color.

Due to the anthocyanins, this tomate is even higher in vitamin C and vitamin B6 (one that supports the immune and nervous system); it was also one of the most delicious foods I have ever eaten.

Indeed, the MarAzul is one of endless reasons I love visiting supermarkets no matter I go. And I can’t wait to go back to Spain to have myself a tomato buffet.

Tarta de Santiago (Spain)

Before diving into the titular dessert, I should cover a bit of history of the background of the tarta de santiago.

James — known in Spanish as Santiago — was named by Jesus as one of his 12 apostles, making him privy to Jesus’ preaching and predictions.  As a consequence of his loyalty to Jesus, James was martyred by King Herod in the year 44, after which his remains shipped to coastal Galicia, a region in present-day northwestern Spain.  Eventually, he was reinterred in what is now Santiago de Compostela; his burial site is exactly where in 1075, King Alfonso VI commissioned the construction of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.  Nowadays, this cathedral is as important a spot for Catholic pilgrims as the Vatican and Jerusalem.

As with just about anything historical, it’s difficult to say whether or not James had visited Hispania (today’s Spain and Portugal).  However, he is viewed as the patron saint of both Spain and Galicia, having helped the Catholics fend off the Moors in a mythical 9th century contest called the Battle of Clavijo; if you’ve never heard of the Mandela effect, it’s when a large number of people think something has happened, yet the event never did.

Riveting, but where’s the dessert?

spanish tarta santiago
Tarta de Santiago, Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain

To prepare a tarta de santiago, or “pie of James,” the primary ingredient is peeled almonds.  It is said that almonds have been in Spain since the 600s, and that the tarta de santiago has been around for hundreds of years; though, no one is sure for how long, and if almonds have always been the main ingredient.

Other main components include eggs, lemon zest, and sugar; coincidentally, if gluten is a problem for you, this dessert can be made without issue.  To distinguish it from other almond-based pastries, the remate, or final touch, is adding powdered sugar on top, along with the design of the cross of Saint James the Apostle.  The design of the cross also became the symbol of the Order of Santiago, a group founded in the 12th century to protect pilgrims and defend Catholics; the cross’ reddish color refers to the blood shed by James when he was martyred.

I tried the tarta de santiago in Santiago de Compostela twice, and found it to be subtle as far as almond-based desserts go, with just the right amount of lemon flavor to balance the buttery sweetness of the almonds.  Try it à la mode, with vanilla or raspberry ice cream, for extra goodness.

FoodTrex Spain Presents The 4th International Congress of Gastronomy Tourism, Pamplona, May 27th-28th

This Thursday and Friday, the World Food Travel Association, in association with Navartur, is holding its FoodTrex Spain event, also known as the International Congress of Gastronomy Tourism.  Normally, Navartur would be hosting a larger event focused broadly on tourism; however, due to COVID-19 this was postponed until next year.

The 4th Annual International Congress of Gastronomy Tourism will focus primarily on workshops in which exhibitors and patrons learn about how to reignite culinary tourism in the wake of a pandemic.

For background, the World Food Travel Association is a 20-year old non-profit organization that promotes hospitality and tourism through local cuisine, and Navartur is a Pamplona-based tourism group focusing on Navarra and the Basque country, located in the central northern portion of Spain.  Furthermore, with its idyllic beaches, cuisine, landscapes, and ancient history, Spain is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, not to mention the headquarters of the World Tourism Organization.

In addition to in-person conferences and B2B sessions, as the COVID-19 pandemic is still very much a concern, event organizers have decided to also add a virtual session for attendees unable to travel to Spain for the two-day summit.

Menorca, Spain Is A 2022 European Region for Gastronomy

Along with Trondheim-Trøndelag, Norway, Menorca earned the recognition of European Region of Gastronomy for 2022, as voted by the International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts, and Tourism (IGCAT). IGCAT is a non-profit organization formed in 2012 with four primary goals:
  • Empower People and Engage Citizens
  • Instill Local Pride
  • Support Local Communities
  • Create Ambassadors and Inspire Young Generations
Although it had been chosen at an event in Brussels in 2019, since the tourism outlook for Spain is improving with regards to COVID-19 – and, they are planning to open to fully vaccinated tourists on June 7th – I decided that this would be a good first post for FindingFoodFluency. In spite of its small size – Menorca being 43 times smaller than Belgium – this Balearic island in the Mediterranean is home to more than 300 food producers, and more than 1800 businesses in the food industry, including hotels, restaurants, bars, and distributors. You may also be interested to know that its capital, Mahon, lent its name to one of the world’s most popular condiments, mayonnaise.
h/t to https://www.hosteltur.com/133501_menorca-ya-es-la-region-europea-de-la-gastronomia-2022.html
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