Every year, the food industry brings out new nougat-shaped “engendros”, and as I walk around the supermarket shelves I think things are getting out of hand. When it comes to nougat, I’m rather classic: I put hard, soft and chocolate nougat in my tray; and if I want to get exotic, I buy a tablet of yolk nougat that, although I don’t like it, I admit that it is part of the select club of nougat of all my life.
While reflecting on these things, I came to the conclusion that I should travel to Jijona sometime during the Christmas season and is that the holidays would not be the same without this population of Alicante.
To the nougat!
The history of nougat goes back to the time of Al-Andalus, when the Arabs already mixed honey and almonds to make various sweets. There is an 11th century document in which the “turun” is mentioned, a dessert that the Arabs brought towards the Mediterranean. The original formula was different from what is now known as nougat, a preparation believed to have been invented in Alicante in the 15th century, nothing more and nothing less than a sweet for the court of King Charles V.
It was not until 1919, in the middle of the 20th century, that a group of nougat makers began to think about protecting the recipe, to ensure that the final consumer always received the best quality. In 1939 the name “Jijona” was created and in 1950 a regulation was published explaining how to make authentic Jijona nougat. It seems to be a lie, but until the 1950s, there were many impostors circulating in Spain, a regrettable delay that had its cause in the era of political instability that the country was going through.
“The most expensive nougat in the world.”
Surely you remember the TV ad that ends up boasting of being the most expensive nougat in the world. Although I have to confess that it’s not a brand I buy, I recognize that seeing the ad is one of the key moments of Christmas, in the same way that singing at the top of my lungs the song “come back, come home, for Christmas”.
The factory where the world’s most expensive nougat is produced is in Jijona and can be visited! In each of his three plants, he explains a part of the process, ranging from raw materials, processing and marketing. At the end of the visit there is a turron tasting and of course a shop where you can buy our favourites regardless of the time of year.
The oldest factory in Jijona
The “Primitivo Rovira e hijos” factory was founded in 1850 and preserves the same production process, which is 100% handmade. This is a family business that has been changing hands from parents to children: currently Primitivo and his sister Beatriz are the sixth generation dedicated to nougat.
This nougat shop offers free visits and has a spectacular store where you can take home some of these freshly prepared and fresh delicacies.
So sweet has been the fifteenth door of The Traveler’s Advent Calendar from The Travel Blog. On this occasion we looked out over Jijona, where it smells of honey and almonds. The “oarsmen” mix the ingredients using all their strength and everything is in motion so that this Christmas, the tray of nougats is as delicious as ever.