VALDEJALÓN: THE JUAN ALTAMIRAS FOOD FESTIVAL
A tapas route designed to offer a varied sampling of Altamiras’s cooking; a sampling of some of the thirty two varieties of tomatoes grown at a local nursery; talks about organic and biodynamic wines; strategies for nurturing farm-to-fork “kilometre zero” market-gardening; a visit to a kosher-certified olive oil maker. All these could be enjoyed during La Almunia de Doña Godina’s first Juan Altamiras Food Festival, which opened with a visit from the friars of Monte Espíritu de Gilet and the presentation of “Nuevo Arte de la Cocina Española”. After the welcomes of mayoress Marta Gracía, Juanjo Moreno, representing the Comarca (county), and José Torres, councillor and director of the Festival, José Luis Soro, Aragonese Consejero de Turismo y Vertebración del Territorio, gave a short talk placing the book in the tradition of other hispanicists’ cultural studies. There followed a round-table discussion between author Vicky Hayward, the friars and Francisco Martínez Soria, director of Editorial Ariel, the book’s publisher. Among many memorable moments were the first sight of San Lorenzo church, now a museum – old wine in new bottles – its ceiling hung with swags of cloth, an interview with musician and historian Gabriel Sopeña, and conversations with readers who came to the book signing. Three weeks earlier the Aragonese Academy of Gastronomy awarded me the 2017 prize for best gastronomic research, a great honour given the standards of agricultural and scientific investigation there. The venue for the awards event, the Museo de Zaragoza (see the photo below) is one of my favourite buildings in the city.