GUEST POST: CHRIS CHAPLOW
Recently I was having tapas in a bar called ‘El Tipico Andaluz’, enjoying jamon y queso and aceite de oliva. Picking up the bottle of mineral water, I noticed it was not from Andalucia, but from northern Spain. I wondered why and asked the waiter; typically he gave me the Iberia shrug.
Since then I have checked more frequently in bars, supermarkets and restaurants in Andalucia as to the source of items, where possible. The chances are that they come from Spain, but probably not Andalucia - which may seem strange considering the abundance of mountain ranges and natural springs in this region.
Lanjaron in the Alpujarras (Granada province) is probably the most famous bottled water produced in Andalucia. The region also has a number of natural spas where you can bathe in spring waters rich in health-giving minerals, such as salts and sulphurs.
If you have a look next time you're in the supermarket, you'll find it is generally the same story, with the exception of aceite de oliva. In my experience, this is the only traditional local produce which does indeed seem to be sourced locally. Look at the label and the chances are the product is manufactured in Valencia, Zaragoza, Madrid or Barcelona.
In Mercadona yesterday I picked up a carton of gazpacho which was a brand called “Andaluz” - ironically, this is based in Valencia. Perhaps this is one of the underlying causes of the economic problems and unemployment here in Andalucia - why are we importing basic food products, including products that we are renowned for making? Do they make better gazpacho andaluz in Valencia? Or is it that all the best goes to export? What do you think?