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The vegetable kingdom

“Navarre is the vegetable capital of the world”. So said Ferrán Adriá of the produce derived from the autonomous community during his involvement in the First International ‘Long Live Vegetables’ Conference held in Pamplona in 2007, in addition to defining it as “produce tied to the land and to national gastronomy”. This prestigious chef isn’t the only person to praise the local produce. Chef Joan Roca considers it “a culinary heritage which should be supported and looked after”, and even Rodrigo de la Calle, creator of the gastrobotanics concept and champion of the Green Revolution, dares to call Tudela “the culinary heaven of vegetables”
Navarre has one of the most well-stocked larders in the country, boasting 6 Designations of Origin, 6 Protected Geographical Indications and 4 quality certifications. Mendavia holds the most DOs in Spain with no less than eleven certifications within a 78 km2 area.


FROM FARM TO TABLE
The quality of the raw ingredients is no mere coincidence. The Ebro river flows through Navarre and all along its path generates a fertile land known as La Mejana, which together with the climate and the culture forged through the past coexistence of Jewish, Arabic and Christian traditions enables the cultivation of unique and special vegetables including artichoke, asparagus, borage, cardoon and piquillo peppers (also known as ‘red gold’), amongst others. These foods have always been connected with Navarran cuisine, and thanks to their diuretic, antioxidant and illness-preventing qualities form the basis of healthy and balanced dishes within the typical local diet.


These small indigenous delicacies are key ingredients in a huge variety of typical Navarran dishes to be sampled from north to south, such as the traditional vegetable stew, cardoon with almonds and ham, artichokes with clams, borage with potatoes and ardanzopa or zurrukutun, a soup prepared with leftover vegetable broth, all of which are characteristic of the healthiness and culinary richness of Navarre. But without a doubt the great ambassador of the region is the white asparagus, notable for its colour, smooth texture and its inestimable bitter taste. It is used in most recipes although when eaten on its own is considered a delicacy.




VEGETABLE ENCOUNTERS

Throughout the year Tudela holds a variety of gastronomical conferences which celebrate the quality of the vegetables yielded by this land. They offer countless events such as pincho and menu tours, guided visits, vegetable stew contests, workshops, talks, concerts and multiple activities linked to the local produce of which the Ribera de Navarra area is so proud.

The Conference in Praise and Celebration of the Vegetable takes place in spring over the last few days of April and the beginning of May, and is organised by La Orden del Volatín and Tudela Town Hall. And in winter there’s the Inverduras winter vegetable festival, held towards the end of November.