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- by Don Harris

farmer surrounded by bags of piquillo peppersExtremadura is one of our very favorite regions of Spain -- it reminds us a little of the Wild West of Texas. The countryside is open and expansive: dry plains, mountains, marshes, meadows and fields. Tourists have not discovered the region so you can go for days just enjoying the landscape and the warm and hospitable people.

The most important area is called the dehesa which is a remnant of the forest which formerly covered all of Europe. It is in this setting where the free range Ibérico pigs are enjoying the countryside eating herbs and acorns among the cork and oak trees. When we walked among them, we carefully sidestepped mud holes where they were blissfully wallowing. They showed a mellow disinterest...

In Extremadura the cooking is almost always simple and straightforward. They have many pork dishes, and some of their soft cheeses, such as those from the towns of Serena and Casar are particularly prized.

Much of the cuisine traces its origins to the convents and abbeys which extended hospitality to visitors in the form of shelter and good food. Yuste sheltered Emperor Charles V when he was weary of the politics of the Holy Roman Empire. The Monastery of Guadalupe was tucked in a valley in rugged mountains, and was a favorite destination of Ferdinand and Isabella – sort of a mountain hideaway. Today it is a ruggedly beautiful drive from Avila and Madrid to the north, and a gradual climb from Trujillo.

It was from Trujillo that many of the restless younger sons left to seek their fortune in the New World. It remains an attractive rural town with a wonderful plaza with a magnificent modern statue dedicated to the hometown Pizarro brothers, conquistadores of their town who conquered Peru.


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"I plan to take 3 of my grandchildren to Guadalupe, Spain where my maternal grandfather was born. Then we go north to see my father's land in the Basque country. This will be my graduation present to the grandchildren for finishing their university studies. Thank you La Tienda for the information on your web. Muchisimas Gracias, Leticia Alatorre"
September 2011

"Dear Leticia, What a wonderful present to give to your grandchildren. Guadalupe is one of my very favorite small towns. The drive from Madrid through the mountains is breathtaking and the town itself is an unpretentious jewel. We have stayed at the modest parador several times and have found the staff there particularly friendly. The church is an amazing combination of Christian and Moorish architecture. One three Kings' Day, I remember the local priest standing on the steps of the cathedral, reading off the names of the children who had been born that year and giving them each a present. Quite poignant. I know you will have the time of your life in Spain with your grandchildren. What more could a grandparent ask for? My very best wishes to you and your family, Don"

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