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I love Madrid. I get excited the minute I land and I’m on the road into the city. I can’t point to just one thing. I love the elegance and the energy; the architecture, buildings, and the expanses of parks and wide boulevards; the Plaza Mayor and the city’s many fountains; the museums; the sense of place; the people; and, of course, eating and learning about Spanish food and wine, over and over again.


Oldways first came to Spain over twenty years ago, even before introducing the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid.  The year was 1992, the 500th Anniversary of Columbus’ discovery of the Americas.  The Symposium was entitled Food, Culture & Discovery, and over 10 days, with 100 experts representing a “who’s who” in the worlds of food, wine, history, anthropology, cooking and nutrition science, we made our way from Barcelona to Seville and then finally, Madrid. 

Twenty-one years later, Oldways organized one of our Culinaria journeys in Madrid, which could very easily be called Food, Culture & Discovery as well. Although Spanish food, wine and ingredients are much better known now in the United States than they were in 1992, there is always so much to discover, enriching our lives by what we learn, experience and taste.

And that’s what 28 of us did in Madrid between Sunday, November 10 and Saturday, November 16.  In terms of food and wine, we started off by learning about Spanish wine with a tasting of 12 wines (3 whites, 5 red Riojas and 4 other Spanish red wines), which produced instant friendships among the group.  We ate meals featuring

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the Spanish regional cuisines of the Basque country, Madrid, Castilla la Mancha, and Galicia, and of course, enjoyed paella (cooked by Chef Norberto Jorge Garcia, a long-time friend of Oldways, so perfectly that the pan could be held sideways).  We learned and tasted Spanish extra virgin olive oil, guided by Oldways friend and former Executive Director of the International Olive Oil Council, Fausto Luchetti.  And, we are all prepared now to host a tapas party, following our Alambique cooking lessons with Gabriela and Maria Llamas, and visit to the elegantly beautiful home of Spanish cuisine expert, Clara Maria de Amezua.

For culture, we started with a tour of the spectacular Real Academia des Bellas Artes de San Fernando.  Then, we had the ultimate pleasure of touring the Prado and learning from Museum of Fine Arts (Boston) Senior Curator, Ronni Baer, about the food in art (the still

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life paintings of Melendez) and the classic Spanish painters (El Greco, Velazquez and Goya).  It was a four-hour experience I wished could go on for hours.  We also explored the streets of Old Madrid and new Madrid on our own, and with our guide Nani Gonzalo, and ventured outside Madrid on day trips, visiting both the magical city of Toledo and the majestic monastery, El Escorial.

The point for Oldways, always, is to celebrate and help bring back some of the old ways, connecting the past with the present and the future, in order to preserve traditions and to bring new appreciation and enjoyment to the years to come.   And, since there is a lot of fun and pleasure along the way, we hope you’ll join us on another Oldways Culinaria (the next one is in Umbria)! 

Viva España!  Viva Madrid! 

- Sara

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