Sanlúcar’s designation as the country’s gastronomic capital will involve a wide ranging programme where residents and visitors alike are invited to enjoy the city’s unique cuisine and wine. The events, scheduled for in and around the in the northwest of Andalusia’s Cádiz province, will highlight the area’s high standards of quality-of-life, drawing attention to its warm climate and natural beauty as a perfect tourist destination.
The accolade coincides with Andalusia’s overhaul of its tourism strategy, the new watchword of which is sustainability. The region’s recently announced General Plan for the Sustainable Tourism of Andalusia Meta 2027 includes UN sustainability goals, protocols to combat the threat of Covid-19, and a new framework where tourism is part of the region’s “green economy”.
“The objective is to reach a model of territorial cohesion dedicated to balancing tourist flows and preventing tourism concentration in specific areas,” it says. “This includes combatting the effects of seasonal periods of high concentration and equally spreading tourism across coastal, inland and large cities of Andalusia.”
Promoting Sanlúcar, to the west of Andalusia and away from Spain’s popular Costa del Sol, fits the new model well. The programme for the city’s year as gastronomic capital will aim to show off the city’s nearby natural resources. That includes the Guadalquivir River and the natural reserve of the Doñana National Park, both of which are inspirations for the city’s food culture and its legendary horse races that take place on a long stretch of the city’s beach every August.
The city hopes the title will also bring much needed attention to many elements of Sanlúcar’s culinary culture, thereby promoting local heritage. This is in-line with the region’s sustainable tourism plan which states that Andalusia’s food remains one of the region’s most competitive factors. And in the case of Sanlúcar, that means king prawns and the region’s Manzanilla wine.
According to Spain’s official tourism website, Sanlúcar’s king prawns are one of Andalusia’s most renowned gastronomic treasures among locals. Farmed in the mouth of the Guadalquivir River next to the Doñana National Park, they carry “an intense and rich flavour” thanks to the characteristics of the waters in which they live. They have an official quality brand, Langostino de Sanlúcar (King Prawn of Sanlúcar), which recognises the prawns caught on the coast of the lower Guadalquivir River.
The perfect accompaniment is locally produced Manzanilla wine, a variety of fino sherry made around the port of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. It takes its name from the Spanish for chamomile infusion, “manzanilla”, because its flavour is said to be reminiscent of such an infusion. Manufactured using the same methods as a fino, resulting in a very pale, dry wine, it has been produced under the Spanish Denominación de Origen Protegida (DOP) of Manzanilla-Sanlúcar de Barrameda DOP since 1964.
There are a host of other food recommendations for visitors hoping to discover Sanlúcar and its culinary scene during its year in the gastronomic limelight; tortillitas de camarones, a simple tapa of prawn fritters; acedías and tapaculos, two of the city’s most famous fish, best served fried and eaten by hand; Arroz con Pato, a lesser-known regional rice dish with blue duck.
Essentially the award will be a moment for the city to put itself on Spain’s culinary map and help new forms of tourism in the region. As Sanlucar Mayor Víctor Mora says, receiving the title is a prize “for Sanlúcar, for Cádiz and for Andalusia, because it represents one of the greatest possible claims when we are all working for seasonal adjustment of the tourism industry”.