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A Super Fine Food Tour to Southern Spain

“Andalucia, when can we see you?” The answer is in September 2023

One of my favorite songs of all time is John Cale’s “Andalucia.” Cale, who will turn 80 this coming March, is a classically-trained, avant-garde musician who went on to play bass, viola, guitar, piano, and organ in the anything-but-classical Velvet Underground. When the band broke up, Cale started a solo career as a musician and producer, as well as becoming a contributor to a host of other musicians’ work. He played on Nick Drake’s second album, Bryter Layter, and also produced Patti Smith’s first album, Horses. Although I like all of Cale’s solo work, I have a particular affection for Paris 1919. The album, which came out in 1973 (it will be 50 years this coming February), featured members of the band Little Feat and the UCLA Student Symphony Orchestra. Every song on the record is really good, but “Andalucia,” the fourth cut, remains my favorite. The first line is the lead-in for the wonderful, world-class Food Tour that this piece is actually about.

Andalucia when can I see you?

“Andalucia,” the song, is a delicate and gentle piece, both lovely and lush. The feeling it gives me is what I imagine it will be like to walk through the lush late-autumn week when our annual trip to the region commences on September 30 of next year. Andalucia, the region, is one of the most magical places I’ve been, filled to the brim with great food, wonderful wine, rich culture, and fascinating history.

a scenic view of Andalucia, Spain

There are a thousand good reasons, in addition to my affection for John Cale’s song, to go to Andalucia next fall with Zingerman’s Food Tours. One is that you’ll get to travel with John Cancilla and his amazing wife, Ana. John has worked for decades with Marqués de Valdueza, our long-time olive oil (and vinegar and honey) supplier in western Spain. He’s originally from Los Angeles, spent his junior year abroad at Hebrew University in Jerusalem (as I also did), and ended up finding what might well be a dream job working with the Valdueza family. John is one of the smartest, funniest, and all-around kindest food people I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Ana’s exceptional network of friends produce some of the most precious gastronomic treasures one can find on the Iberian Peninsula. Between Zingerman’s Food Tours guide (and long-time IT Director) Elph Morgan, John, and Ana, you are guaranteed to eat well, drink incredible wine, see beautiful scenery, laugh a lot, and learn some of the very special history of the region. You’ll be invited far off the beaten track to hidden places even very few Spaniards are likely to know. John says,

This trip is all about the local gastronomy, but it’s also about the local economy, the social structure of Southern Spain, the role of women in agriculture, and the Jewish and Arab legacies in the Andalusian kitchen. All of this was planned with very close friends who have done their best to help us show the hidden face of Andalusian gastronomy and experience Spain off the beaten track.

The tour itself will spend a lot of time exploring the gastronomic world that sprang up in Andalusia, drawing on the springs that include the Roman, Arab, Jewish, and Christian kitchens that flow in the region after centuries of conquest, domination, and not-always-so-peaceful cohabitation. We will visit Sherry wineries and enjoy professional tasting for what amounts to a Master Class in the region’s wine. We will also learn about certain aspects of Andalusia’s unique, local food production with visits to a Retinto beef producer, a seawater-based vegetable producer, the remains of the original Roman fish conserves and garum factories, and a superb, Iberian ham producer in Jabugo. Also, tuna is king on the Mediterranean coast of Andalusia and we will learn about the ronqueo, or the carving of a tuna, in the hands of an expert chef in Barbate.

The hotels are great, too: Las Casas de la Judería in Seville is a hotel created in the old Jewish quarter of the city, in actual houses of the former Jewish residents. The streets, patios, and gardens of the quarter have been maintained, and staying at La Judería is really like flying back in time to experience life in what was one of Spain’s most vibrant Jewish quarters. The other hotel, in Jerez de la Frontera, is a five-star deluxe–it’s pure elegance and exquisite service. Our guests are going to love it!

Add in some long walks, great talks, terrific tapas, and a healthy dose of history, and this is a seriously awesome opportunity for a literally once-in-a-lifetime culinary travel opportunity!

Cale’s “Andalucia” is a song of unrequited love. In the lyrics, his unnamed lover chooses not to meet up with him. I have a feeling she might still be kicking herself all these years later for missing out on a special opportunity. The Food Tours are much the same. If you’re game for an exceptional week of eating, drinking, learning, loving, and laughing, book your spot today! It’s hard to convey the quality of connections and camaraderie that come together on one of these tours. Kristie Brablec, managing partner at Zingerman’s Food Tours says, “We find special humans doing really amazing things. It’s connecting people, and when you break bread with people, you have opportunities to grow tight bonds. It’s pretty special.”

Book now to get someone you love one of the most special gifts they’ll ever get!

P.S. If you want a bit more music to listen to while you consider coming on this world-class Food Tour, Yo La Tengo (in 1990) and Andrew Bird (in 2020) both did terrific cover versions of Cale’s classic song.

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