Flavours of the Province

Sweetmeats, mantecados and polvorones


Sweet Seville

The Moorish presence for centuries and the subsequent establishment of religious orders in all regions of Seville have resulted in a pastry-making culture that we can enjoy in any town: pestiños (honey-coated fritters), torrijas (dessert made with bread, eggs and milk), rosas (flower-shaped pastries), roscos (doughnuts), oil and lard cakes, macaroons, mantecados (shortbread), polvorones (powdery sweetmeat), hornazos (traditional pastries), puff pastries, tocinos de cielo (creme caramel), jams and an endless list of cakes. Cereals, orange blossom and rosemary honey, anisette and spirits, olive oil and orange blossom are present in nearly all of them. Try the oil cakes in Castilleja de la Cuesta and the macaroons in Utrera. Visit the local fairs and markets, which proliferate throughout the province at Christmas.

Visit the bakeries and convents, a world of handmade sweetmeats and pastries. In Ecija, the yemas (sweetmeat made with egg yolks) are dispatched at the Convent of the Concepcionistas Franciscanas. Don't miss the marzipan in the shape of a flock of sheep prepared by the nuns of the convent of La Concepción in Lebrija. The Mercedarias Descalzas in Marchena are experts in puff pastry, the Clarisas in quince jelly and bizcotelas (sponge and merengue cakes), and the Mercedarias of Osuna in suspiros de ángel ('Angel's sighs' almond and pumpkin sponge cakes).

And don't forget the mantecados and polvorones in Estepa. They contain the flavour of culture, tradition and a culinary legacy whose origins date back to the 16th century, and which today is growing under the protection of a quality distinction rooted in this industry run by women, who are the true architects and leaders of their production. In August Estepa already smells of Christmas. Visit its factories and workers. An outstanding pastry-making tradition.

And then there are the sweet and bitter orange marmalades, which are exported and consumed worldwide. And the lemons and quinces. The whole province of Seville tastes sweet.