Throughout our book, Going Native In Murcia, and this website you’ll find many references to the food and drink of the region. We make no apologies for dedicating a lot of time to this subject. As we researched the book our favourite pastimes were checking out bars and restaurants, tasting different wines, going on cookery courses and eating with our neighbours. Our waistlines have suffered but we did it for you, our very special readers! So here’s a round up of some of the most popular local food specialities in the region of Murcia.
Revuelto, is a common name for another tapas counter staple, eggs scrambled with runner beans, garlic, onions and ham.
Zarangollo, is a Murcian dish combining the concepts of ratatouille and omelette. It is made from tomatoes, courgettes, onions and eggs. Every tapas bar worth its salt in the region should have a plateful in the chiller. Menestra is similar, a dish of sautéed vegetables.
Ensalada Murciana, a wet salad of cooked red peppers and tomatoes, garlic, aubergine and onions. Always served cold and frequently with some fish (tuna or cod) thrown in. Almost always on the tapas counter.
Pastel de carne, little pasty or pie shaped pastries, filled with delicious meat, tomato and egg. Very good, give it a try. These are often bought to take to the bullring in Murcia, where they always have a merienda (snack) after the 3rd bull.
Arroz, rice is grown in the Calasparra region, with its own quality standards.
Among the wide variety of rice dishes are:
- Arroz y conejo, rice with rabbit
- Arroz de verduras, rice and vegetables
- Arroz y costillas, rice and ribs
- Arroz marinero, seafood rice
- Paella huertana, a vegetable paella
Potaje, a rich stew dish.
Habas con jamón, ham and broad beans.
Caldo Murciano, local soup dish.
Michirones, a spicy bean stew with pork and sausage (usually eaten with a toothpick).
Chuletas al ajo cabañil, garlic chops.
Pescado a la sal, baked fish in salt.
Fresh Vegetables & Fruit, known as the market garden (la huerta), the Murcia region boasts an extensive and year round fruit and vegetable selection. Many of the fruit and vegetables you’ll find in supermarkets in the UK will have come from Murcia, particularly tomatoes, melons and oranges.
Jabalí, wild boar, is available as a delicacy throughout Spain, and Murcia is no exception. The boar is served in a number of dishes (including the famous wild boar with figs) as well as just roasted.
Caviar, a locally–produced variant of caviar (huevas de mújol) is produced on the Mar Menor. It’s available in jars in most local supermarkets at a very reasonable price compared to ‘the real thing’, but tastes pretty good!
The best cheeses in Murcia are granted a DOC rating, just like the wines of Yecla, Jumilla and Bullas. There are two categories of the Murcia DOC cheese, Queso de Murcia and Queso de Murcia al Vino. The Murcia DOC cheeses are all produced from whole milk from Murciano–Granadina goats.
The Queso de Murcia DOC comes in two varieties, fresh and semi–cured. The fresh variety is mild, white and has a woven texture on the rind from the tall, cylindrical mold. The cured variety is cured for at least 60 days, is rather more flavoured with a firmer texture, some holes and a smooth rind.
The Queso de Murcia al Vino DOC is a richer cheese with a characteristic reddish colour which comes from the wine that the cheese is soaked in while maturing. The cheese is matured for at least 45 days for large molds, and 30 days for smaller cheeses.
Being a vegetarian in Murcia can sometimes be a little challenging. Local culture celebrates the pig and ham as a staple food, to be consumed at every opportunity. Here is a list of the top 3 vegetarian options:
Revueltos, scrambled eggs, you could ask for them with mushrooms, setas, or with asparagus, espárrago. Remember to specify sin jamón to have a better chance of having scrambled eggs without the ubiquitous ham!
Patatas Bravas or Patatas Alioli, potatoes with spicy hot sauce or garlic mayonnaise.
Huevos con patatas, egg and chips!
Sin Carne? When ordering for a vegetarian friend in a long–established restaurant in Murcia, we ordered the safe option, revueltos sin carne. When it arrived we had to explain that even the little bits of ham in the eggs weren’t appetising to our friend and asked if they wouldn’t mind starting again without meat, and without jamón.
If you love Spanish cooking then get yourself a copy of our Spanish Cooking Uncovered: Farmhouse Favourites cookery book.