Although its name conjures up images of extreme hardship, Extremadura is actually a derivation of the phrase, extremo del Duero, which refers to the Duero River, more specifically the south bank. During La Reconquista, when the Christians were trying to take back their land from the Moors, this river marked the westernmost border of Spanish Christendom. Contemporary Extremadura still retains this frontier heritage with only a million people living in an area the size of Switzerland.
While it is true that much of the landscape of Extremadura is sparse and hard, the festivals and the architecture of its fine cities are spectacular displays of color and pomp. As with the landscape, so the cuisine is marked by simplicity. The centerpieces are stews based on lamb, goat’s meat and pork, and shepherd’s pies with bread and vegetables. Early explorers like Cortés and Balboa introduced many of these vegetables, but none had more impact than pimentón (paprika), which is now an integral ingredient in many traditional Spanish dishes.
Extremadura is the home of…