The international project “Ark of Taste” was created in 1996 by the organization Slow Food to elaborate a catalog of food products in danger of disappearing, and thus to capture the attention and sensitivity of the public.

Maintaining food biodiversity is one of its main pillars and goals, as it is an incredible heritage of unique raw materials and excellent artisan products produced on a small scale, as well as long lost traditions, history and culture in general. Attempting to document these products can help to recover and protect them as our (world) heritage, supporting their producers and promoting their consumption.

The products of the Ark have to:

• Be of exceptional gustatory quality
• Be linked to a specific geographical area
• Be produced artisanally and on a small scale
• Be produced with sustainable and fair methods
• Be in risk of extinction

In Andalucía our products are:

1. Chestnuts (Serranía de Ronda and Sierra de las Nieves)

Most people wouldn’t associate the very south of Spain with such a “northern” tree known from colder regions, but Malaga is full of surprises! So close to the Mediterranean, yet so high in the mountains that the weather is continental, some of these trees grow there since centuries. They are used to obtain wood and chestnuts, but as well many indirect products like honey or mushrooms.

It’s a very fragile ecosystem (lots of plagues and diseases, higher labor costs and abandonment of agricultural activities in general) that needs to be protected in order to maintain our biodiversity and to recover old culinary traditions.

chestnuts serrania ronda

Photo Credit: Nacho Sánchez

2. Andalusian Chicken

Basically, there are two types of breed: Andaluza Azul and Utrerana. But nonetheless, the Andalusian chicken exists in a great variety of colors and even the color of their feet is different: gray. That helps to distinguish them from the yellow ones of their companions, which normally is a sign of a commercial hybrid.

They grow up in liberty, enjoying the natural food the countryside provides them like grass and insects, but they also receive complementary dry food. Only some small scale producers still have this breed and a very low amount of them.

3. Organic Acorn-Fed Iberian Pork (“cerdo ibérico puro de bellota ecológico”)

Iberian, acorn fed and organic- could you ask for more?! But let’s take it back a step. Iberian refers to the breed and in this case both parents need to be 100% of this “Raza Pura” (an autochthonous one), in comparison to other pigs that might be a cross with other breeds. Acorn fed means that during a certain time these pigs mostly eat acorns, normally from October until February.

And on top of that it really is a pig that grows up in healthy and natural conditions, free range in the countryside, according to an ancestral and sustainable way of breeding, in small family-run enterprises.

acorn fed iberian pork

Photo Credit: Nacho Sánchez

4. Sweet Orange “Grano de Oro”

Oranges- autochthonous, but originally from Southeast Asia where they enjoy this delicacy since thousands of years and from where it expanded through the Silk Road until reaching our region. In the orchards of Malaga’s Guadalhorce Valley a local orange variety grows with the name “Grano de Oro” (Golden Seed), very similar to the one found in Seville.

It’s a “naranja” with little juice, but a characteristic flavor- sweet, fruity, floral and not acid. The harvest is in December and still nowadays it’s a very popular variety because of its “healing properties”, being children and sick persons the first ones to eat them.

5. “Royal” Olive Oil (variety)

An olive variety that is endangered, since for the farmers it’s almost not profitable to cultivate it. Production costs are too high, because it’s quite difficult harvest them: the tree suffers important damage during the recollection (very fragile wood) and it is more complicated than normal to pick them from the trees, which is the reason why they need more workforce.

On top of that this variety doesn’t produce very much oil, but of an extraordinary quality.  Now another olive variety, Picual, took its place representing close to 95% of all the olive groves. Currently only 5 enterprises/cooperatives produce this oil.

6. Almadraba Tuna and Roe

This red tuna is a product of traditional extractive fishing (selective fishing, only adults). The “almadraba