The gastronomy of Toledo is characterized by the region’s dry land and the fact that it is closely identified with Castilian cuisine.
Its dishes are made thanks to small game hunting such as partridge or domestic birds. These are among the most characteristic ingredients on its menu.
A history of nations and flavours
The gastronomy history of Toledo is based on the long passage of time when the spices, ingredients and gastronomic customs of very diverse peoples were adopted.
The Romans, Arabs, Visigoths, Jews, Christians and many others slowly created an authentic culinary imprint in these Castilian lands.
The gastronomic tradition of this province is so long-lived that the first book on the art of cooking in the Spanish language was published in Toledo in 1529. This culinary treatise, written by Ruperto de Nola and called "The Book of Stews", incited an impulse to learn the culinary art and had the enthusiastic support of Emperor Charles V.
However, that was not Toledo's only bibliographical contribution. In 1592 appeared what was the first book on confectionery in the Spanish language. It was called "The Four Books on the Art of Confectionery" and was written by Miguel de Baeza.
These two books, written just a few decades apart during the 16th century, had an extraordinary impact on the collective imagination and became bedrock tomes for future Toledo and Spanish chefs and pastry chefs.
A dairy land
As in the other provinces of Castile, Toledo is a land where the production of cheeses and dairy products – particularly sheep's milk cheeses – is abundant.
Toledo cuisine stands out for its expressive taste and flavour, which contrasts with the deceptively simple preparations containing a mystique and culinary knowledge deeply rooted in the Toledo soul. It is not by chance that the expression states, “from Toledo, coachman or cook”.
Flavour and intensity in equal parts
In addition to its dairy products, Toledo's culinary art is based on key ingredients such as saffron, whose cultivation is so deeply rooted and valuable that it has its own designation of origin.
This love for cooking has resulted in a range of dishes and preparations that, although they have very simple ingredients, are very tasty, exquisite and popular. Among these dishes, we can highlight “migas” and Manchego ratatouille, as well as pickled vegetables and domestic poultry.
Its ingredients include olive oil, wine, mutton, lamb and chicken, which are used to prepare stewed partridge and Toledo-style partridge, beef stews, stews, “migas”, chicken in pepitoria, venison in its sauce and ram stews, among others.
Carcamusas, marzipan and wines
Among the traditional stews, “carcamusa” stands out. It is made with lean pork meat to which vegetables, tomato and, on certain occasions, chorizo and ham are added.
Undoubtedly, one of the most popular dishes in Toledo cuisine is one of its desserts, marzipan, which is made in shops, restaurants, homes and convents throughout the region.
Also, the north of the province of Toledo stands out for its production of wines with a denomination of origin, Méntrida, characterized by a limited yield of grapes due to the region’s harsh climate. This gives the wine a strong aroma, beautiful colour and intense characteristic flavour.
Deep-rooted tradition with an international character
As one would expect, Toledo's significant gastronomic tradition has made it the home of many restaurants, both traditional and international, where the culinary mystique remains intact, as do the idiosyncratic roots of its cuisine.
These are authentic gastronomic establishments managed and administered by world-renowned chefs with knowledge based on the Toledo philosophy. They use ordinary ingredients, a (seemingly) simple preparation and a true love of that preparation in all their recipes. The result is abundant and delicious preparations of enormous quality.