Polvorones: A Real Spanish Christmas Treat
Christmas may feel a little different if you’ve moved to Andalucia as an expat. While mulled wine in the sun is a fantastic idea—highly recommended by Hamilton Homes staff member Mark—why not also embrace some of the customs that make Christmas in Spain unique? The polvorón is one of those many Spanish delicacies that you must try out this season.
What is a Polvorón?
Polvorón comes from the word polvo, meaning dust in English. This is because of the soft and crumbly texture of the small shortbread, which pleasantly melts in the mouth. Polvorones are now enjoyed across the Spanish-speaking world and its diaspora. However, it is a jewel in the crown of Andalucia, where it originated, and remains a fixture of the winter economy.
Aromas de Medina
There are towns and communities throughout Southern Spain that are renowned for their production of polvorones. Among them is Medina Sidonia, one of the oldest cities in Europe.
Just an hour’s drive from the Manilva area, you can visit the Aromas de Medina artisan bakery, famed for its delicious polvorónes, established in 1958.
The shop’s founder, Maria del Carmen Macias, has polvorones in her blood. “I was always told that my great-great-grandfather baked them”, she recounts. Times were difficult during her upbringing, as a crisis “much like the one we have today” meant that Maria del Carmen had to get to work pronto. “My partner and I thought about how we could put in our grain of sand for the good of Medina Sidonia,” but building up the funds to start a business took several years.
Husband and co-founder, Santiago Barros, managed the commercial responsibilities. “The times were indeed tough, but now I have immense satisfaction to see where we have been able to get to,” Santiago says with a warm smile. Since the business began, Santiago and Maria del Carmen have “reached the success we thought we could achieve, but we never imagined it would actually happen.”
Aromas de Medina
She elaborates on the choice of the shop’s name when they opened: “We thought it would be ideal to marry the aroma of Medina Sidonia with the city itself, because in those days the city had a real aroma”. This is definitely the case inside the shop, as the sweetness of cinnamon, fresh lemon, almonds and pine nuts put on a show for the senses.
Varieties of Polvorón
Maria del Carmen has since created varieties of polvorones beyond the traditional almond or cinnamon flavours. Indeed, chocolate and pistachio are a couple of modern favourites. For the uninitiated, it is also worth trying the polvorón’s close cousin, the rosco de vino, available in fine pastelerías everywhere this Christmas.
La Navidad española is full of delicious and distinctive customs, from the pata de jamon to the small polvorón. Get adventurous this Christmas and savour the sweetness of southern Spain. Next time you enjoy an afternoon cup of tea in the sun, don’t forget your polvorónes. Fair warning: they are absolutely moreish.
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