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Cadiz is not only diverse in terms of product, it is also diverse in the cultures and civilizations that have been shaping it throughout its history, its gastronomy. The province of Cadiz treasures more than 3,000 years of history. Its capital city is said to be the oldest "living" city in the Western world. There are numerous existing vestiges of different civilizations that have passed through these lands, leaving their mark on the culinary culture of the area. Phoenicians, Romans, Visigoths, Muslims, Jews, Christians... The discovery of the New World, with the huge trade in products it accounted for...

The first civilization of importance to have settled in the province of Cadiz seems to be the Phoenicians. As active travelers, they found good business in the production of salt, a product used to make salazones, the salted preparations of the time. 3,000 years later, these same preparations have gone from being the solution to a need (the need to preserve fish), to becoming  gourmet products. Take mojama (sun-dried, salted tuna fish), for example, which enjoys an excellent reputation in the market.

The relation between Cadiz and its fish continues throughout the other classical civilizations that populated the area, especially the Romans, who had a strong presence in Cadiz. Traces of their famous industry can still be seen in the remains of factories that were used for fish salting and the production of garum, their favorite seasoning, made with a base of fish viscera. Research is still being carried out today, to create the "garum of the 21st century", a product based on the Roman condiment but adapted to current tastes, although it still hasn’t given its fruits.

The foundations of the main products of the province were already laid down in the classical era. Fishing was developed with the implementation of the almadrabas, a complex fishing system based on a network of nets and traps in which the fish are caught. It is actually still used today to catch Bluefin tuna, one of the most prized fish in the world.

The production of grapes also started, along with olives and wheat, and with them came, therefore, wine, olive oil and bread. There is also evidence at this time of the first cheese production in the Bay of Cadiz.

The arrival of Arab civilization to the province provides a touch of delicacy and a flavor for gourmet products. Arab culture introduced spices and developed Andalusian sweets and confectionary. They were responsible for the invention of one of the culinary gems of the province, the Aljafores de Medina, an almond sweet with honey and spices, very aromatic. In the 13th century, Cadiz was reconquered by Christian forces, turning what had been Muslim territory for six centuries into part of the Kingdom of Castile.

The next milestone of significant contribution to the development of the cuisine of Cadiz is its leading role, during the early modern era, in communications with America and Africa. Explorers like Christopher Columbus left its ports bound for America. The city of Cadiz had the monopoly of trade with America, and in the 18th century was the seat of the Casa de Contratación (House of Trade) and the Flota de Indias (Fleet of the Indies). The city and other towns around it, like Sanlúcar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa María, gained considerable prosperity with important commercial activity. Influences arrived from both continents, with products as essential to gastronomy as potatoes or tomatoes, now fundamental in Andalusian cuisine, as well as cocoa, corn, pumpkin, or vanilla.

The 18th century saw the consolidation of the aging of the wines of Jerez with the method of criaderas and solera, still used today, that made them one of the most appreciated wines in the world during that century and the next. From that time on, most of the influences that came to Cadiz cuisine were from Europe, especially France and the United Kingdom, with the imitation of many of the dishes and desserts from these countries.

By the 19th century, according to research conducted by the gastronome Manuel Ruiz Torres, the Bay of Cadiz had many establishments where fish was fried. This is one of the most emblematic elements of the local cuisine, the frying of small pieces of food coated with flour, in olive oil at high temperature.

The 20th century brings the development of an important canning industry based on the blue fish products of coastal area of Cadiz. It is also worth noting that by the end of this century, the concept of tapas as the Andalusian casual style of dining, so popular in the cuisine and culture of Cadiz, became a very well-liked culinary trend in the rest of the world.

 
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