The importance of the Malaga lettuce

IMG_2733The number one producer of lettuce or lechuga in Europe and the biggest exporter in the world is Spain, exporting more than any other country. In 2012 more than half of lettuce exports came from Spain with figures increasing each year. However, when it comes to these delicious Spanish greens, there is more than just the tip of the “iceberg”.

There are many different types of Lettuce such as Endive, Romaine, Little Gem, Arugula, Round lettuce, Batavia, Lollo Rosso, Watercress and Iceberg and many others grown in Spain that are used as main bases for salad. These green and leafy vegetables refreshing flavours and textures can range from slighter bitter to slightly sweet, from soft to crisp and are usually enjoyed raw. There are many ways that lettuce is incorporated into dishes either as the main element of a salad, in a sandwich or as a garnish, even most lettuce used in other countries in Europe has been grown and cultivated in Spain.

Lettuce can be put into one of two main groups, lettuce “Lactuca sativa” and endive “Cichorium endivia” which are from the Asteraceae family (flowering plants). Types like, Little Gem, Lollo Rosso and Iceberg lettuce, Escarole and included. Others, like Watercress, are part of the Brassicaceae family (another type of flowering plant), while mâche, “lamb’s lettuce” belongs to the Valerianaceae family (strong flowering plants).

When exploring Malaga we had the opportunity to talk to many locals, all who agreed that lettuce was a healthy assest to cuisine. They praised the different flavours and softness in comparison to lettuce grown in other countries. We had the chance to try some and how it’s combined into dishes and can say that it lives up to it’s reputation.

Anjali Chudasama and Charmaine Chudley

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