WITH the Fallas fiestas just around the corner for many municipalities in the region, we thought it would be a good time to let you know what some of the locals will be eating and drinking. Many of these also traditionally complement others, such as horchata and fartons (stop sniggering at the back). Horchata is possibly the most iconic Valencian drink, a milkshake type beverage made from locally grown chufas (tiger nuts) and regarded as a superfood – in fact they have even made the grade for astronauts on the space station. Very sweet, very rich, and not to everybody’s taste, but a bit like Marmite, those who like horchata really like it. The traditional accompaniment for this is fartons, an éclair shaped plain sugar bun that is dipped in your drink. Another popular pairing is hot chocolate and churros, a deep fried sugary batter mix that is dipped in the sweet drink. To be authentic, the beverage should be made from melted chocolate, not the powdered variety.
The most famous food in the region and maybe all of Spain is, of course, paella. You will see giant paellas being cooked outside many of the Fallas stations, usually for members of the association but sometimes for sale to the public for a few euros. Expect rabbit, chicken, pork, beans, tomatoes, onions, peppers and the best quality rice. Don’t expect seafood or (sorry Jamie Oliver) chorizo.
When it comes to alcohol, plenty of it will be consumed and it is as likely to be beer and cocktails as anything particularly local (although any wine will probably will be Valencian). You may see some local mistela, a sweet strong dessert wine that is supposed to aid digestion and is often drunk after a meal. So, enjoy the festivities – que aproveche y salut!
Pictured above: Sweet treat. Churros and hot chocolate.