CUISINE IN COASTAL AREAS
Rice, vegetables, fish and seafood are the basic elements of our coast's cookery. It would be hard to conceive of a celebration of any sort without the emblematic paella.
Valencian paella, seafood paella, mixed paella, arròs a banda, arròs negre (its name received due to the use of squid ink), vegetable paella, stewed rice, oven-baked rice, rice with cabbage; all dishes which have the cereal as its primary ingredient.
Oily and non-oily fish, in all their varieties, and shellfish, may be sampled throughout the whole of Castellón. The recipes which have the exquisite taste of seafood as their base are innumerable.
The traditional slaughter of the pig, celebrated in January, years ago formed the basis of the sustenance of the people living in the interior of the province. Even today it takes place in many homes as a ritual and as a starting point for very varied dishes. Ham and cold cuts, well cured, are the star products created following the slaughter.
Longanizas and butifarras (types of sausages), frituras (fried meat) and stews of every type feature in the overwhelming majority of kitchens. Also very well-known are the traditional tombets, produced using meat as a base, and accompanied by mountain snails (very traditional and tasty), mushrooms (abundant in our pinewoods) and vegetables.
Especially traditional of our province is the stew, which has many variations; in some cases, a product of the traditional slaughter, along with a good number of vegetables.
Another dish from the province which is a must is barbecued meat (a la brasa), the majority of which comes from lamb which has grazed in places with an surfeit of aromatic herbs, and the cattle which are bred abundantly in the regions of the interior. The classic grilled chops and the juicy ternasco (roast-beef) are dishes of the first order, and indispensable on any table throughout the year.
OUR FRUIT AND VEGETABLES
The most widespread fruit found in the lands of Castellón is, of course, the orange, and along with that, fruit from the orchards: apples, cherries, pears, melons... very different depending on the season.
Especially well-known for their exquisite taste are the cherries from the Palancia and Espadán areas. These two counties are rich in fruit-bearing trees on un-irrigated land, and they form an important part of its economy.
The irrigated area of Castellón, reaching from north to south, the length of the coast, has contributed crucially to the cuisine. Here a wide variety of vegetables are consumed daily; which in many cases are the base of a lighter and natural diet which makes up the axis of what is popularly known as the "Mediterranean diet". The artichoke from Benicarló, with Protected Designation of Origin, is a good example of this.
There also exists a rich tradition of cake and pastry making, which is present at every table.
The variety of savoury pastries is legendary, with different types according to the townships. They are usually presented filled with vegetables, meat, and even, on occasions, seafood.
Sweet pastries are traditional on special occasions like Easter, summer fiestas, local fiestas and Holy Week. The pastry is often combined with nuts, pumpkin, sweet potato, cottage cheese and other varieties.
There are almost as many types of tasty pastries as there are villages in the province of Castellón, which are unique to different celebrations throughout the year.
Nonetheless, Castellón is a land of good wines, and in the last few years, the careful production of good wines which come from our vines has increased, maintaining as well an excellent fruit wine, aromatic Mistelle; anise-flavoured beverages, like absinthe and Cazalla, made from several different combinations and spirits, amongst which the most well-known is Carmelitano, produced by the Carmelite fathers in their wineries in Benicàssim.