Toledo - Spain's Imperial City
On our pursuit to learn more about the history of Spain, we made our way into the forticated city of Toledo, approximately 30 minutes by train from Madrid. Toledo was the capital of Spain from the Gothic epoch until 1560, a fact that explains its really impressive medieval architecture.
The most thrilling of the city is the walkways making one feel like they have stepped back into the Middle-Ages. Interestingly, the 'Swords of Toledo' gave to the city its' steel-production fame throughout the world. Toledos' steel was famed for its high quality alloy, whereas Damascene steel, a competitor from the Middle-Ages, was famed for a specific metal-working technique. While visiting the city it is a true entitlement to buy some of Toledos' fine artisanry. Historical swords and souvenirs are to be found mostly in the center of the city.
Toledo is known as the "Imperial City" for having been the main venue of the court of Charles I, and as the "City of the Three Cultures", having been influenced by a historical co-existence of Christians, Muslims and Jews.
The city is the leading Spanish province in small game hunting and one of the richest for large game as well; and inevitably recipes are influenced by this and also the region's long tradition of cattle-breeding, yet show Moorish influences as well. Garden vegetables are also to be mentioned because of their variety and quality.
Toledo's cuisine and gastronomy are not to be forgotten whilst your food scouting. Quails and partridges are some of the most extraordinary pleasures for delicate palates, and one of the most typical dishes in Toledo is the perdiz roja estofada, or stewed red-legged partridge, prepared with great skill and simplicity: with garlic, bay leaf and pepper. Other quail dishes include cordoniz a la toledana (quail Toledo-style), and also partridge served with white beans, perdiz con pochas.
Roast meats are also popular, particularly cordero asado ( roast lamb,) and also cochifrito (deep fried lamb made into a stew). Other dishes are sopa castellana (a type of garlic soup), migas (fried breadcrumbs seasoned with garlic and paprika), trucha a la toledana (trout Toledo style), venado con setas (venison with mushrooms), jabalí (boar) and tortilla a la magra (potato-omelette with lean ham). The gazpacho of La Mancha is a very tasty winter stew. It is, as with all Manchegan dishes, a most revered recipe, appearing in Don Quixote by the name of "Galianos". Its preparation is long and laborious, almost ritual like. The pisto manchego, having achieved a kind of national status is endlessly imitated across the country. It is a medley of chopped tomatos, zucchini or courgettes, green peppers and is often accompanied with eggs. It is quite similar to the perhaps better known french dish rat-à-touille. A marzapan (a confection consisting primarily of sugar or honey and almond meal, sometimes augmented with almond oil or extracts) factory is in the outskirts of Toledo, so be sure to buy the authentic treats at bakeries around the city.
For hunger and culture purposes we recommend visiting Toledo Turisme. Nothing but great things are to be said about this city.