As part of the EUROPETOUR meeting in Potes, Cantabria taking place from 7-11 June, 2017, Cantabrian experiences for cultural tourism in rural areas included three types of cultural tourism products, which were very well selected by our partner Pilar Bahamonde of SRECD in Spain. The aim was to showcase, and highlight, the quality of Cantabrian culinary products on the one hand, as well as emphasising the strong links to Cantabrian culture and cultural tourism on the other hand.
cantabrian cultural tourism products
A cheese is a cheese is a cheese is a cheese? Oh no, not if it cures in the Liébana caves high up in the mountains! The three different types of cheese, which artisan Cheesemaker Picón Bejes-Tresviso in the little village of Bejes produces will and can never go into mass production: They are hand-made from the milk of local cows, sheep and goats, curing in the natural humidity of the lime stone caves 1200 metres above sea level, high up in the Cantabrian mountains.
This very special cheese-making technique has been protected under the so-called Denominación de Origen (DO) legislation since 1994. It is a product which cannot be improved. If you want to enjoy and buy it at the place of production, you have to overcome the long and windy road to the village of not much more than 50 inhabitants.
So why is this a cultural experience? The cheese cannot be understood without the cultural landscape. It is much more than a culinary product, it is a most complex product and proof of quality in a cultural landscape, a chance to get to, to eat and feel, the essence of the region – exactly what culturally interested people are looking for.
cantabrian products “in transition”
Bodega Picos de Cabariezo is a family-run winery, and has been a beneficiary of national awards for many years. The estate is famous for their fine wines and orujo, the typical brandy made of remains left after pressing the grapes of the Liébana region. But the owner José Antonio Parra and his team have transferred the knowledge of the winery into another product, as they recently started producing gin. The very first range of new products is on the market now and visitors can taste it in the lovely visitor centre in Cabariezo.
cantabrian products & innovation
Cutting ham in a way which lets the flavours explode: This is what the EUROPETOUR partnership learned from the ham slicers of Jamonerias Remaes company. Forget everything about ham before you taste this product: Slicing the ham, Luis Miguel developed an innovative technique, where the ham slicers come with a whole ham to be used in front of people at events of all kind. The single slices are eaten right from the ham, while the slicers tell stories about the pigs, or what acorns they were fed from the Extremadura oak trees. They explain how the flavours develop in the meat and suddenly it is not only a ham. Spanish ham production and the service of slicing go hand by hand; the ham slicers are booked by hotels, cultural festivals and family events. The innovation here is the transfer of the product into a service – a most delicious one!
cultural (and culinary) entrepreneurship
Why does a young and highly qualified hotel manager leave his job and start a business?
“Because I wanted to do something extraordinary linked to my Cantabrian background”, says Iván Barranco of Anchoasparaeventos.com. Now he is producing a highly sophisticated product: The Cantabrian old tradition “sobado de anchoas”. Using this technique, the best quality sardines, according to the Cantabrian tradition, are carefully selected one by one, and cleaned of every single bone and skin in front of our eyes in a special way. They are then served to us conserved in premium olive oil.
Again, the (rather delicious) culinary product involves much more: Iván Barranco represents the process at cultural and business events, and takes care to include visitors and participants by offering each and every anchoa separately, like a piece of art. It is a unique product which is only available from Cantabria. Highly innovative, Iván’s start-up business is running well already. His enthusiasm for the product does not only capture your palate, but also reflects the Cantabria spirit. Needless to say that the sardines, captured in the Cantabrian sea, are incredibly delicious …!
conclusions from our cultural learning experiences
- If you have a unique traditional product, leave it as it is and guide visitors to “get a feel for it” (i.e., make it interactive, hands-on, visually and sensually attractive)
- Excellent products are the basis for developing attractive services.
- Innovative local products and services are business opportunities for rural areas.
- Authentic experiences include not only the product, but always involve the people as well.
Enjoy our creative Flickr photo gallery of our visit in Cantabria here (just be careful not to look at the pictures hungry ..!). We will be in touch with more input soon, especially with regards to the progress of the Training Modules as well as the Social Media Guidelines!