The gastronomy of the Pueblos Blancos is one of the most complete and varied in the Cadiz province: from the flavour of its game meats, to the horticultural and agricultural tradition and the succulent diversity of the municipality’s pastry cook.
However, the Sierra of Cádiz has managed to position itself as a national and international gourmet reference point thanks to one of its most emblematic products, cheese. Centuries of tradition are evidence of what today is one of the main economic engines and tourist attractions of the region. Figures corroborate the importance of this sector in the area. According to the Sierra de Cádiz Cheese Producers’ Association, 70% of the province’s handcrafted cheese production is gathered in Pueblos Blancos. In addition to the high volume of sales and the popularity of these products, the track record that has been awarded to local companies now exceeds one hundred.
The lack of automation in the production process and the important role played by artisans are two essential pillars of the cheese industry. However, the quality and flavour of the final product is influenced by other factors of great importance, such as the raw material. The milk used in the manufacture of these cheeses comes from native breeds – the Payoya goat and the Grazalemeña merino sheep – which are exclusive to the area and endangered species. The particular climatic conditions of the area have made the Sierra of Grazalema the suitable habitat for shepherding of these endemic species.
Although the traditional recipes have managed to outlast up to today and keep achieving a huge success, the palette of flavours has expanded thanks to the new adaptations that have emerged. The possibilities range from goat’s, sheep’s or mixed cheeses for conventional palates, to the most daring versions, with toppings made of butter, rosemary, thyme, oregano, cumin or paprika.
There is no doubt that the cheeses of the Pueblos Blancos have acquired such relevance that to describe them as cultural and gastronomic heritage is just a reality.