It often seems like there’s part of a pig, sheep or a cow on every plate in Castile – steaks can be gargantuan, the traditional roast meats, found everywhere, are cochinillo (suckling pig), lechazo (lamb) and cabrito (kid), while hearty Castilian appetites think nothing of limbering up first with a thick sopa castellano, usually containing chickpeas or white haricot beans, both staple crops from the meseta. In Salamanca province, jamones (hams) and embutidos (sausages) are at their best; in Burgos it’s morcilla (black pudding) that’s king. If you’re feeling faint at the thought of so much meat – and Castilian menus can, truth be told, get a little monotonous – then the legendary tapas bars of León and Logroño ride to the rescue, where bite-sized morsels, from cuttlefish to mushrooms, offer a change of pace and diet. Only really in La Rioja does the traditional, heavy Castilian diet give way to something lighter and more varied. The rivers that irrigate the vines also mean freshwater fish, particularly trout, while La Rioja is the one part of the region where the contemporary Spanish foodie buzz has scored a real foothold.

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