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Drink away your sins

February 24, 2011 – 10:40 am

We’re just coming up to the first puente of the year here in Andalucia – for Dia de Andalucia, this Monday – which is a three-day bank holiday, although many children also have tomorrow off school, giving a four-day break, almost like a shorter version of the English half-term. It’s a great opportunity to get away and explore all the amazing cities, beaches and scenery that Andalucia has to offer. We’re off to the beach.

The next major occasion is Carnaval, a crazy, colourful celebration which takes place all over the region, but most especially in Cadiz - you can read all about it in this month’s ezine.

After that, in April this year (unusually late), comes the event which for many more traditional Andalucians is the highlight of the year, putting the likes of Christmas and Feria in the shade: Semana Santa. The streets of every town and city in Andalucia are taken over by solemn processions of nazarenos, robed people wearing tall pointy hoods (capirote) which cover their faces, and bearing statues of Jesus in various poses, and the Virgin. The smell of incense and candles, and the sound of saetas, the mournful, spontaneous songs addressed to Mary, fill the air; the experience is one which everyone should have once in their life.

Now a drinks company in Granada has produced a liqueur, complete with stopper in the shape of a purple capirote, which claim to have recreated the mystical aroma of Holy Week. “Crema del penitente”, Penitent’s Cream, whose ingredients include honey from the Sierra Nevada and royal jelly, even has a touch of incense, to take you right into those streets filled with hooded devotees, lugubrious bands and thousand-strong hermandades (brotherhoods).

The Crema del Penitente (15% alcohol) also features flavours of such typical Semana Santa pastries as torrijas, pestiños and leche frita.

I am extremely curious to try out this new themed drink. I wonder if they’ll be offering free tastings in supermarkets nearer the time; in Andalucia, it will be marketed most heavily in Seville, Cordoba and Granada. If you’re lucky enough to get to try to it, please let me know what you think.

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