Comunidad Valenciana (3)
Valencian Community stands out because of its celebrations and fairs. Saint Joseph ‘Fallas’ is very renowned and attracts tourists from all over the world. During four days and four nights immense papier mâché statues can be found in the streets, representing burlesque character scenes about different contemporary Valencian and Spanish subjects. This explosion of fire ends on Saint Joseph day, March 19th, when the great Fallas are burned.
The most multitudinal and spectacular act is the Offering of Flowers to the Virgin of the helpless. From March 17th to 18th, from the afternoon till the early night, a colourful parade takes place with ‘falleras’ women, wearing regional costumes, carrying flowers to their Patron. At midnight of March 19, the ‘Fallas’, except for one ‘ninot’ that was previously pardoned, are burned by the fire.
Many popular celebrations in the region remember events of the ‘Reconquista’ times, in which El Cid is a fundamental figure. During spring and summer, many Valencian towns and villages celebrate Moorish and Christian festivals, which are always very colourful events. In Alcoy, for example, between April 21 and 24, the citizens get dressed in historical costumes to celebrate a Moorish and Christian festivity, in honour of their patron Saint George. Similar events occur every year in Onteniente, Orihuela and Calpe, in an atmosphere of brotherhood.
Another typical and very well-known celebration is the one of ‘Tomatina’. On August 25th, at ten o’clock in the morning, at Buñol Main Square, people are ready to fight each other with only one type of weaponry: tomatoes. Throwing and receiving ‘tomatazos’ without breaking them can be quite an experience.
Concerning Valencian gastronomy, it must be emphasized that the famous Paella was born in Valencia. Many types of paella exist. The best known internationally, is the seafood variety, but perhaps the more typically Valencian one has chicken, snails and vegetables added to the rice. In order to make a good paella it is necessary to work with the best ingredients: rice, saffron, meat, fish and vegetables, which must stew until the rice, the fundamental element of paella, has been cooked to its perfect point. Another variant of the paella is the Fideua, that replaces rice with noodles, or Black Rice, that acquires its colour from cuttlefish ink. On the other hand, Valencian irrigated grounds deliver some of the best vegetables, and the Mediterranean Sea offers varied fish and seafood. And all of this has to be accompanied by a good wine from Utiel-Requena. In the afternoon, there is nothing better than a refreshing Horchata, a delicious sweet ivory coloured milk, enriched with tiger nuts, a vegetable similar to rice.