My mother always said bread belongs to God and my home we were raised eating bread from ‘Alcalá of the bakers’, nicknamed given to the town Alcalá the Guadaíra. I recently visited the place to know everything about its historical bread production. Its flour mills route by the Guadaíra river consists on industrial, gastronomical, historical, cultural and natural heritage. All them in once, just because creating categories limites the reality.
The excursion was organized by Slow Tasters and the journalist Javier Domínguez. The medieval mills route was guided by Juan, an expert in flour mills and mills in general, as he also produces Vegaoliva olive oil. We walked by the river Guadaíra along green paths where Debra Dorn from Azahar Cuisine taught me a lot about the gastronomic use of some plants.
There are many mills in the itinerary, but we can consider them into two different types: De ribera or De cubo. The first ones uses the current of the river as the hidraulic energy source. The second one uses the current of the streams that naturally discharges in the Guadaíra. In both cases it is necessary to artificially retain the water to make the current jump from a higher level to the wheel. Maybe the next illustration helps you a little bit more to understand it:
In the next video it would be easier to understand the internal mechanism:
The walk is extremely beautiful. We saw 5 mills in total, two of them from inside too, and we enjoyed the fresh atmosphere among the trees, flowers and plants of this natural riverside ecosystem. A perfect hike very close to the city of Seville.
After the walk by the river, Carmen Muñoz from Turismo en Alcalá guided us in the modern flour factory, nowadays restored and converted into a museum. It was like travelling from the Middle Times to the Industrial Revolution. The factory didn’t change the main concept: producing flour consists on grinding wheat or other cereals. But the estructure of the factory was of three flours, containing a very sophisticated laberynth of tubes and machines that cleaned and grinded the crop. Nowadays, this factory of flour, or ‘harinera’ in Spanish, is a museum and the Tourist office. It preserves the original wooden floor and many of the old machines from the factory.
As you can imagine, we were starving when we finished the visit. The place chosen for lunch was Venta Los ponys, in a terrace full of roses, where my favorite dish was rice with partridges. In Andalusia we eat a lot of rice, but hardly ever paella, which is a traditional way of cooking rice in Valencia. On the table there was bread from Alcalá too, of course. Specifically, ‘pan picado’ (I think ‘angle bread’ could work as a ‘not so bad’ translation). Finally, we went to Cuevas Anita to try their delicious desserts, a restaurant located inside an old house-cave in San Miguel neighborhood.
Alcalá is also known for a bridge with an enormous dragon and the castle from the 12th (Almohad period of Al Andalus). Look what incredible view offers these two constructions when getting into the town.
Plays and concerts have been celebrated in the castle, and in 2008 I was lucky enough to be invited by a friend to the concert ‘Omega’ by the flamenco singer Enrique Morente and the rock group Lagartija Nick. ‘Omega’ is a little bit controversial within flamenco world. Some people claim it as a historical highlight in flamenco fussion, some others think it’s kind of an insult to flamenco art. Whatever. For me it was such a great concert that I would like to share with you one of the best songs on the next video:
If you are planing to come to Andalusia in your next trip, I highly recommend you to consider including a visit to Alcalá de Guadaíra. It is very close to Seville and it has a lot to offer you. You can contact me for more information.