Nougat, 1000 years’ tradition

We are already in Advent again. I like the cycles and the routines. Repetition has that. You have the opportunity to repeat until you reach the effectiveness of a system, until you find what works and you adapt to the new situation.

Statistics say that each Spanish eats an average of 560 grams of nougat each Christmas. That makes a total annual production of 25,000 tons of nougat. Do we really eat that much? How much do you eat?

Nougat is a sweet which is usually made of almonds, honey and egg, usually cooked. We add no honey, no eggs, and usually no sugar. We make them cooked or raw .

The nougat is, in the Catalan region, perhaps the most typical and traditional sweet for Christmas, although it was originally eaten dessert rich in special ocasions. There is written evidence that the nougat was on the menu for the wedding of King James I’s daughter.
The origin of the nougat has its mysteries. The most plausible theory is that it is of Arab origin, like other desserts with almonds, and then from the southern regions of Valencia, especially in Jijona and Alicante was  popularized in other areas in Spain, southern France, Italy, and Latin America. The recipe is in the medieval Book of Master Robert Coch.
Almonds and honey were already used in Al-Andalus for the manufacture of many sweets. Generally the origin of nougat is located on the Arabian peninsula. This theory is supported by the Treaty “De medicinis et semplicibus cibis” from the eleventh century, written by an Arab doctor, in which he speaks of “Turun”.Thanks to the culinary arts of the Arabs!

One of the first mentions nougat is written in Step 6˚ “La Generosa paliza” (1570) by Lope de Rueda. The plot of the play consists of an owner quarrel with his servants because they seem to have eaten a pound of Alicante nougat which was on his desk.
In 1582, a document of the municipality of Alicante reads that from time immemorial, every year, this city of Alicante accustomed to Christmas parties, pay (..) on wages, partly in cash and partly in a present that gives them , a bushel of nougat (…).

The anonymous “Women Manual”, sixteenth century, provides the first recipe to make nougat. In any case, the custom of eating nougat at Christmas was spread throughout Spain in the sixteenth century, at least among the more affluent sectors of society.

A letter signed by Felipe II in 1595 urged to reduce expenses, That nougat and fig bread for Christmas present, forbid and command that it can not spend that my city [Alicante] more than fifty pounds each year.

In the “Chronicle of the Most Illustrious, Noble and Loyal City of Alicante” the dean written in the seventeenth century Bendicho Nougat of Alicante commonly say that only manufactured honey and almonds is said to look like their white jasper pieces.

Sugar was an ingredient added later. There are mentions only from the eighteenth century, coinciding with the massive planting of sugarcane in America and the extension of free trade with America a greater number of Spanish ports, including the port of Alicante.

Currently, Spain is the leading producer of nougat, marzipan and Christmas candy. In 1992, 1,400 tons of nougat were exported almost exclusively to Latin America. It is also very successful  in the Far East and Japan and even in countries with strong export tradition of sweets such as the UK, Germany and France.

The current development process is traditional and, although moderns machines facilitate industrial overproduction and ensure greater standardization of quality, turronero sector is guided by the same recipe ever.

Nougat varieties we produce biological products, vegans and high quality
Ginestada almond nougat, according to the medieval Coch’s book recipe

Jijona Nougat praline: Toasted almond or hazelnut and agave syrup.
Marzipan nougat: raw almond and agave syrup.
Chocolate nougat: with toasted hazelnuts, lightly salted pumpkin seeds with gray Guerande salt, caramelised sesame, truffle
Coconut nougat: coconut, coconut and chocolate

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