In addition to its great cultural wealth, Elche offers excellent cuisine, which uses the wide variety of products offered by the area. A rich vegetable garden and the proximity of the coast mark the culinary history of the population.
“Elche´s star product in terms of gastronomy is, without a doubt, the fresh date of its palm grove”
The collection season runs from October to January and during that time it is possible to buy dates in some establishments linked, mostly, to the families who cultivate and lovingly care for the palm trees.
The Elche variety of the exquisite pomegranate, fruit of infinite properties, introduced by the Arabs, is the “mollar”, one of the best valued in the world.
“Very much appreciated is pomegranate juice, sold in many establishments, as well as pomegranate ice cream”
In addition to dates and pomegranates, grow in the fields of Elche, many traditional Mediterranean crops are cultivated, such as oranges, almonds, olives, “nísperos”, figs and lemons.
“Crusted rice” is a rice dish, typical of the regions of Alicante. To the rice, white sausage, red sausage, (blanquito and botifarrón) are usually added. Once semi-cooked and before being completely cooked in the oven, the mixture is covered with beaten eggs. It also contains the usual ingredients of other rice in the region, such as water, salt, saffron, tomato and dried garlic. It is usually cooked with rabbit in the southern regions and it has chickpeas in some areas.
“Crusted rice” is, par excellence, the typical dish of Elche and one of the most unique rice dishes in this region”
In some restaurants, a tiny pinch of lemon zest and grated nutmeg with beaten egg is added to give a special touch to the final flavour.
ELCHE CAKE AND FIG BREAD
As for desserts we must highlight the Elche cake, which is a sponge cake with ground almonds, without yeast, honey coloured and decorated with meringue and glazed fruit.
“We also have to highlight the fig bread that has become one of Elche´s characteristic desserts”
Its fundamental ingredients are almonds, sugar, clove, “matalahúva” (green anís) and dried figs. This delicious sweet is consumed especially at Christmas, for its resemblance to nougat.
“Cantueso liquor” has an alcohol content between 25% and 35% with a minimum content of 100 gr of sugar per litre. Its color is normally dark because of the use of caramel. It has hints of honey and thyme. It is usually drunk cold and undiluted, with or without ice.
It is obtained from the distillation of green anise or star anise. To the process of distillation, alcohol and the natural extracts of anise are added, as well as water and sugar. The product must remain at rest for a minimum of ten days before bottling.
It has an alcohol content between 40% and 55% with a maximum sugar contnet of 50 grams per litre, resulting, therefore, a relatively strong drink.
For the preparation of the “date liquor” you only need dates, a piece of vanilla, and cognac. These ingredients are put into any type of large jar and left to marinate (soften the dates by keeping them submerged in the cognac) so that they release all their flavor. This mixture must be kept at room temperature (in a cool dry place) for at least 40 days. During this period the bottle should be shaken every 3 or 4 days so that it does not thicken too much. People from Elche have consumed this great liquor for decades, after meals, accompanied by a typical sweet.