The “Academia Iberoamericana de Gastronomia” (the Spanish – Latin American Gastronomical Academy) has recently named the city of Merida, in Extremadura -Spain, the capital for Gastronomical Culture 2016. This certainly represents an intercultural bridge between Latin America and Spain, with an important stop at Extremadura. With this title the Academy recognizes a specific destination at the member countries of this distinguished organization, namely: Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Portugal and Spain. Merida succeeds Guanajuato, Mexico as the Capital City. And to celebrate the distinction, Merida has filled its agenda with events that enhance local food, culture, heritage and natural resources. The events are being supported and joined by “Junta de Extremadura” (Government of Extremadura), the “Ayuntamiento de Mérida” (the Town Hall of the city of Merida), and private business.
Strolling through Merida means to stop at different places to savor all the juice of Extremadura. Tasting their veal, pork and lamb, which are grown free range, among oak trees is a unique experience. Extremadura offers visitors possibilities to experience the taste of the Ham of the “Dehesa de Extremadura”, cheese from Los Ibores or La Serena or Casar de Caceres, food that is dressed with olive oils from La Serena and Gata de Hurdes, honey from Villuercas-Ibores and the incomparable red pepper (paprika) from La Vera. For dessert a perfect finish can be any of the desserts made with cherries from the Jerte Valley.
A table setting that allows visitors a taste of Merida
The “Gastroartesanías” Show can be visited until August 31 at the “Asamblea de Extremadura” is just one of the activities planned for the “Merida Capital Iberoamericana de la Cultura Gastronómica” event. It offers visitors more than 200 pieces of interest and allows a journey through the history of cooking. Attendants may place interest in a set of crockery, designed specially for this event, by artisan Lopez Vinagre, which commemorates the naming of the city as the gastronomical capital. It can be purchased as a whole set or by pieces.
Dinners including live shows at the hotel Ilunión Mérida can be enjoyed until August 27. And the meetings of “Ham Carvers” organized for the support of UNHCR, will be held until September 1, are some of the interesting activities.
Merida a 2000 Year Old City of the XXI Century
This millenary city offers a wonderful range of attractions to interest visitors. Magnificent historical monuments that are keep in great condition, including the impressive Roman Theater. Every summer, the place is the headquarters for the now world famous “International Festival of Classical Theatre of Merida”. Also, the Roman Aqueduct of “Los Milagros”, the Temple of Diana, the Roman Bridge or Arch of Trajan are some examples. This city is a composite of archeological treasures and has a legacy of incalculable wealth, which led UNESCO to declare Mérida a City World Heritage Site in 1993.
Merida is an archeological site where different historic cultural legacies coexist with the Romans: The Visigoths and Arabs. These are mingled with the most modern architecture, such as the National Museum of Modern Art of Rafael Moneo, the bridge of Santiago Calatrava or the “Palacio de Congresos” signed by Fuensanta Nieto and Enrique Sobejano.
The two thousand year old Mérida of the Twenty First Century is magnificent. It is well worth reserving a place in the calendar of the most discriminating cultural traveler.
Original article by Pilar Armero
Translated by Susana Windt
Published in july, 2016