Nick Butcher on Fiestas and Foods of Spain.
 The Nerja





Few events throughout the Spanish year are so eagerly awaited as the annual fair, and Nerja is no exception. Children console themselves as they return to school in late September that the fair is just around the corner.

A more formal prelude is when the statue of San Miguel is paraded through the streets on the last Sunday in September, accompanied by lines of the faithful, local dignitaries and the town band. They process up to the tiny church known as La Hermita. There they collect Nuestra Señora de las Angustias, Our Lady of Anguish, from her usual residence. Together they return to the Balcón de Europa and the church of El Salvador, where they will stay until the tenth of October. Then, in the evening, San Miguel will accompany Our Lady back to her little church, and there she will stay for another year, with a firework display to mark the occasion.

This then is the religious context. Socially, this was traditionally a time when you could relax after bringing in the harvest. Now it is basically an excuse for a huge party lasting several days (and nights). Fiestas such as these are a terrific way to see the locals let their hair down. Huge amounts of food and drink are consumed; plates of serrano ham or other cold cuts are always popular, and the air will have a spicey tinge from all the pinchitos, the skewers of meat, being grilled. Everything will be washed down with chilled dry sherry, called fino, or Manzanilla if it comes from Sanlúcar de Barrameda. It is alarmingly easy to drink.   

Stamina for these occasions is vital because things go on into the very small hours, and sleep is impossible anyway if you live even remotely near the fairground. When people do decide to call it a day, their last stop will often be for a sort of pre-sleep breakfast of thick hot chocolate accompanied by those delicious fingers of fried dough called 'churros'.


Here in Andalucía they are typically cooked in a huge catherine wheel shape which is then snipped into manageable pieces for dunking in your chocolate. You may also see them fried in the shape of small rings (called 'tejeringos'), thin bows or loops (called 'lazos') or thick sticks (called 'porras'). The consistency is different for all three, but all should be freshly cooked and hot. This may sound like an indigestible thing to eat before going to bed, but it does seem to fend off a hangover.

You can listen to the episode below.