Girls’ Day Out In Almagro

Two weeks ago, on a sunny Sunday, my pal Maria and I decided to embark on an outing to Almagro, a town half-way between Toledo and Ciudad Real.

I’d never even heard of this town before Maria mentioned it as a possible day-trip destination, but, as it turns out, it played a pretty important role in Spanish history during the Golden Age. You won’t find many foreign tourists there. It’s just a bit too far out in deepest La Mancha (aka The Middle of Nowhere), and it has all of 9,100 inhabitants.

Cruising through La Mancha with its big skies and empty roads.

The main square

Almagro’s main square (Plaza Mayor)

Almagro square buildings

Almagro Windows

Maria had the wise foresight to hire a local guide, who took us around the town for a couple of hours, filling us in on all the noteworthy historical nitty-gritty. Almagro is home to one of Spain’s national monuments, El Corral de Comedias, one of the world’s oldest still operational Theatre venues. It dates back to the 17th century, when performances would go on for five hours in the searing heat without a break. God, I’d rather be at home sifting grits…

Here it is, El Corral De Comedias from the inside

El Corral De Comedias from the inside

Girl

Maria testing out the "bathroom".

Maria testing out the “bathroom”.

The Fuggers' World Domination

The Fuggers’ World Domination

For me, the most interesting discovery was that Almagro had been the seat of the Fugger family in Spain. If you know any more than the bare basics about German history, you may have heard of them. During the Middle Ages, they were an immensely powerful  family of merchant bankers, headquartered in Augsburg. But what the hell where they doing in Almagro?

Well, Almagro had mercury mines, and the Fuggers could afford to build the infrastructure required to exploit them. Mercury was essential for the mining of gold and silver in the Americas.

Our guide told us that “a drop of mercury”, at the time, was a poplar home remedy for curing constipation in children. I think I’ll stick to prunes…

House

PortalHouse and blue skyUniversity Founder

OK, I can tell you’ve all had enough of this history schmoo by now. Let’s get down to what’s really important: THE FOOD. This is what we had for lunch:

Our starter: A mix of appetisers typical of this region. That's a tiny fried quail egg there on the right ;-)

Our starter: A mix of appetizers typical of this region. That’s a tiny fried quail egg there, topping the “pisto” on the right 😉 Totally delicious, even the “migas” (fried bread with sausage, top left), which I’m not usually very fond of.

Maria had the duck, which was a bit tough, but very flavoursome.

Maria had the duck, which, it has to be said, was a bit on the tough side, but very flavoursome nevertheless.

I opted for pork and baked apple. Melt-in-the-mouth tender... yum!

I opted for pork and baked apple. Melt-in-the-mouth tender… yum!

Bucket-sized "cupcakes" in a bakery window

Bucket-sized “cupcakes” in a bakery window. I may have sprained my nose slightly.

These flaky pastry constructions are typical of Almagro. Very pretty, but I'm not sure it's quite my thing...

These flaky pastry “ornaments” are typical of Almagro. Very artistic, but I prefer a good, succulent slice of cake myself.

Every Spanish town is famous for a particular food item. Almagro is famous for pickled aubergines (eggplant), "berenjenas"

Every Spanish town is known for a particular food item. Almagro is famous for pickled aubergines (eggplant), “berenjenas”. We managed to get some, of course!

And here they are, on a plate :)

43 thoughts on “Girls’ Day Out In Almagro

  1. Jackie Cangro

    Beautiful photos! I love the tile work in the Plaza Mayor.
    Hmm, pickled eggplant. I can’t say I’ve ever tried that. Was it delicious?

    On a side note: Does your city have a special Easter processional? I saw a clip about Easter Week in Spain and a story idea came to mind. Any sites you could recommend for more information? (Spanish or English is fine)

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  2. June

    I was just starting to speed up my scrolling when I got to the food. Damn, it all looks tasty! I so love tapas as you get to try lots of different things. Sounds like a grand day out, all in all!

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  3. Heyjude

    There I was strolling through the plaza, admiring the lovely blue-green paintwork and the architecture when I came to the FOOD! Oh boy! (Hope your nose is better now 😉 )
    I fancy the pickled aubergines, but they look quite small and green, not the usual dark purple – I’m guessing they are a different variety?
    Thanks for a grand day out!

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  4. Stefan Rehbinder

    Wonderful pictures (as always) and interesting story. If you ever come to Germany, visit Augsburg. I live next to the Fuggerei, the world’s first social housing project, and It would be a pleasure for me to show you this historic place. Afterwards let’s have some good cake, of course! 😉

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    1. ladyofthecakes Post author

      If I ever come to Germany?!? I’m from Fürstenfeldbruck, I could virtually spit on your doorstep from there 😉 I’ll be back this summer, so if the cake offer still stands, I’d love to take you up on it 😉

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      1. Stefan Rehbinder

        Ahaha, sometimes it would be good for me to read the whole thing! But remember, FFB seems to be nearby, but it’s in Upper Bavaria and therefore worlds away…
        The offer stands – a visit of the Fuggerei is worth a visit anytime, and afterwards you’re invited to bite you through the cakes of Café Euringer, one of the best cake shops in the city (if you kindly do without spitting on anybodys doorstep 😉 )

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      2. ladyofthecakes Post author

        Worlds away…! Where do I start…

        I will refrain from spitting as long as my mouth is stuffed with cake. Café Euringer… now that has the ring of paradise to it…

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  5. tobyo

    pues…muy interesante! nunca he oido de los Fugger. this is the second time in as many days that I’ve read something about Almagro but I cannot recall what I read the other time. hmmmm, it will come to me later I spose. fabulous fotos and of course I loved the food shots! your pork and apples looks scrumptuous.

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  6. Anna

    I’ve never heard of this place before! It looks so…quiet? One of the most fun things about Spain is that so many of its towns look like you could film a movie set anywhere from the Middle Ages and on, without the need to spend a single moment setting up decoration. This is totally one of those towns.
    The food looks…interesting. I’d have gone for the duck and the fried sausage. I have no idea what that pisto thing is – not sure I ever encountered it in Madrid.

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    1. ladyofthecakes Post author

      Not may people have.. it’s too small… and very quiet indeed.

      Pisto is kind of like a cross between chunky salsa and ratatouille, served either hot or cold (as an accompaniment). I like it.

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  7. restlessjo

    I’ve seen that theatre posted about before (probably Andrew Petcher?) but I didn’t recognise the town name. Almagro to me is a Spanish tennis player who hails from Madrid.
    I’m still thinking about that apple pie I glimpsed on your previous post 🙂

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  8. Kim G

    Nice post with wonderful photos. As usual. Those “pastry decorations” are called buñuelos; at least that’s what they’re called in Mexico. (And after a quick Google search, it would seem that that word is used for more pastries than just that one.) Despite looking complicated, they are actually incredibly easy to make. You need a special iron, which is first dipped partway into batter, then into hot oil. Then the buñuelo slips right off. A dusting of powdered sugar, and you are set!

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we particularly admired the empedrado in the Plaza Mayor.

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  9. TBM

    Pickled eggplant–I think I’d like that. And the pork and apple looked good. Loved the history stuff. Mercury for constipation–who came up with that! I’m trying to remember, did hat makers use mercury and that’s how the term mad as a hatter came about? That rings a faint bell in my empty brain.

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      1. narami

        Nunca he ido a España, pero mis bisabuelos eran Mayorquies y se que si algo hay bueno alla aparte del jolgorio es la comida. Buen provecho!

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