CAROB, SNAILS AND SARDINES

a postcard from a normal day in malaga…

Whenever people ask us about our commercial crops on our little Andalusian farm, we always mention olives and our almonds. Grapes were once a commercial crop for us – in the form of our Malaga-style wine – but that was many years ago. And, while it’s true we also once sold a bushel of pink grapefruit to a greengrocer in our local village, the only other crop we ever used to sell regularly was carob (algaroba in Spanish). Known as boxer in Britain, carob was best known as a chocolate substitute, especially during wartime, when supplies of the real stuff were sparse, and these days, it’s popular as candy (in the States), ground for flour, eaten as a dried fruit and made into syrups and even alcoholic drinks. But, in the 90’s it’s popularity seriously waned, and the price for the brown pods and seeds fell so low, it cost us more in diesel to get the carob to the factory than we got paid for it.

However, the emergence of veganism has seen a massive spike in the demand for carob, and a corresponding rise in its value, making it a worthwhile crop once again. And, in the event we were paid a handsome €60.00 for our modest three sacks, giving us in turn, a pleasant excuse to continue along the road, to spend our earnings – somewhat ironically – on some delicious, decidedly non-vegan Malagueño cuisine…

Adding our 50kilos (highlighted) to the mountain of carob at our local depot/factory.
Then off to Malaga to spend our not-so-hard earned pocket money – firstly on these delicious caracoles (snails) in a spicy, cumin-infused sauce (a recipe from Córdoba)...
…Then down to the beach, for a few espetos (wooden skewers) of sardines , roast against smouldering olive wood. This shot, taken through a Perspex windshield, gives the scene a slightly wobbly look!

DELICIOUS TINNED ANCHOVIES – YES REALLY!!

This is a dish where the whole is significantly greater than the sum of its parts. It’s delicious and simple and works equally well as a light lunch or an hors d’oeuvre. “Cogollos con anchoas” – Little Gem hearts with anchovy fillets is a classic north Spanish dish popular throughout Spain. The secret is to get hold of a tin or jar of fat, salted Cantabrican or Basque anchovies and a head of fresh, firm sweet garlic. Don’t bother with the typical flat tins of dried-out, woody little fillets we all hated as kids (and which give preserved anchovies a bad name generally) and don’t use old garlic. Anyhow – for two people – simply wash/refresh and quarter two lettuce hearts length-ways and place as shown in the photo in a large, round, heat-proof dish. Cut four anchovy fillets in half, also length-ways and lay the eight halves along the ridge of the eight lettuce segments. Heat a half-cup of decent “cooking” olive oil in a skillet  on a medium flame. Meanwhile take eight large cloves of the garlic, peel, and slice roughly, then drop into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown but DO NOT BURN!! Pour all the garlic and oil over the lettuce and anchovies and serve with a fresh baguette or any crusty sour-dough bread. Goes brilliantly with our own Malaga wine (as in the photo). We tend to eat the hearts and anchovies first then finish by dunking the bread in the olive oil and garlic. The combined tastes of the anchovies, olive oil and garlic is synergy in the mouth…

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