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Extremaduran food relies on peasant fare, with strong character and hearty flair. In addition to fresh produce, Extremadurans rely on pigs, of which they use every part, including the criadillas (testicles—don't confuse them with criadillas de la tierra, which are "earth testicles," also known as truffles). Meats are outstanding, most notably the complex and nutty jamón ibérico de bellota (ham from acorn-fed Iberian pigs) such as that from the Sierra de Montánchez north of Cáceres or the Dehesa de Extremadura from the southern oak parks around Zafra. Equally irresistible are the chorizo and morcilla (blood sausage), often made here with potatoes. The caldereta de cordero (lamb stew) is particularly tasty, as is the beef from the retinto, a local breed of longhorn cattle. Game is common, and perdiz al modo de Alcántara (partridge cooked with truffles) is a specialty. Extremadurans make a gazpacho based on cucumbers, green peppers, and broth rather than tomatoes and water. A common accompaniment is migas, bread crumbs soaked in water then fried in olive oil with garlic, peppers, and sausage.
Local sheep, goat, and cow cheeses are known for their strong flavors. If you have a chance, try the tortas, the round, semisoft cheeses of Cáceres: Torta de Casar and Torta de La Serena are frequent Best Spanish Cheese prizewinners. Pimentón de la Vera, a smoked paprika from the Vera Valley, has also long been a much-valued Extremaduran product. Favorite extremeño desserts include the técula mécula (an almond-flavor marzipan tart), which combines the flavors of Spain and Portugal.
Marketed under the generic appellation "Ribera del Guadiana," Extremadura's little-known fruity red wines are up and coming on the Spanish wine scene and a good value. Typical digestifs include liqueurs made from cherries or acorns.
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