Having a drink is one of the commonest social activities in this region on spare time. It is also a good attraction for those visiting this community. Drinking here is always a social act, almost a ritual with the only aim of having a conversation with friends in a bar or “chigre”. These kind of social meetings usually take place in cider bars, which have been spreading along the Asturian landscape in these last years. They keep the native custom of producing and pouring cider.
In this region, cider is the most popular drink because it is really refreshing so, bars keep lots of bottles of it. It is also advisable to drink cider with a snack on the morning. In any case, one can have a drink of cider somewhere else, overall in festivals and processions, country festivities and all kind of events on open air.
It is also widely known that having some drops to excess can make one feel a bit drunk, because after all it is an alcoholic drink. This drink favours the good state of happiness for this reason it is usually drank in social encounters. It is very common to see the common exaltation of friendship while drinking cider, usually accompanied by funny songs… If there is the sound of a bagpipe behind us, cider tastes better and we spend a much more funniest time.
Apart from being a social drink for festivities and spare time, cider is also a good drink for accompanying many regional recipes at table. There are a lot of Asturian dishes that lose its pure essence without this drink.
In some cider bars the environment is ideal to meet friends who usually laugh, joke and overpopulate these places. All around is full of people, green bottles, corks, sawdust over the floor, trays full of small edible crabs, goose barnacles or Spanish omelettes. On the walls it can be found hanging signs referring to the old tradition of cider, its magical powers or al least, they talk about its gift of giving happiness.
Asturian song (in Asturian language)
El que emburrió dos pucheres
Quedóse com’una pascua
Falatible y gayasperu,
Sin sede n’una semana.
Y non piense: qu’ella sola
Enriquez al que la faga,
Da don al que no lu tien
Y horros y cases levanta.
Properties of the cider
Apart from being the ideal drink to share with friends and foods, the healthy properties of this drink are also widely known. It is one of the most natural diuretic drinks which helps control cholesterol and prevent from coronary diseases.
If we have a look into the past we will see that cider has a very long tradition. The cultivation of apples trees in Asturias started in the period of Astures, but it is certain that the terms “pomar” or “pumares” have its origin in the Roman times. Along the Middle Ages, it is constant the mention to the term “pomares”, as well as the dictions “manzanares”, “pumares”, “pomiferos”, etc. All these names by extension were giving more and more importance to the apple in Asturias to that point, that it was soon known out of this territory. From the Middle Ages until today, the growing of apple trees is in constant expansion, leaving apart the growing of other fruit trees, such as citrus and some cereals which crop was basic in this region up to the 19th century.
In the last years this crop has been improving, thanks to the studying of the problems that affect the native apple tree. Farmers are given subventions to keep this cultivation nowadays.
Now producers of this drink are trying to get a guarantee of origin. With this aim, recently all bottles show a label that guarantees the best of its quality.
If we are interested in knowing a bit more about the history of cider and its virtues we can visit the Museum of the Cider in the locality of Nava. This is one of the most important cider points in this Principado of Asturias.
Small Asturian Dictionary
> Culete, Culín: small amount of cider that is drunk at once.
> Chigre: bar where cider is sold. In spanish: Cider Bar.
> Escanciar: to pour cider from a certain height to keep all its properties.
> Espalmar: after pouring cider, the foam still remains for a little while.
> Hacer vasu: presence of enough carbonic in the glass.
> Llagar: place where cider is elaborated. Press used to obtain grape juice.
> Mayar: smashing apples to get the grape juice during the pressing at the Llagar.
> Palu: collection of features (colour, aroma, taste…) that define cider.
> Pegue: when drinking, cider leaves small bubbles on the walls of the glass. How much smaller they are, the best quality of cider.
> Pipa: barrel where juice ferments and turns into cider. It usually shows a small hole from we can get a bit of this liquid to taste it and then decide the best moment to bottle it. It can contain up to 450 litres.
Festivities where cider is consumed
> Festival of Natural Cider in Nava: second weekend in july.
> Festivity of Natural Cider in Gijón: in the middle of august.
> Festival of the Apple in Villaviciosa: in october.
> Festivity of the Cider in La Felguera: During the festivity of Saint Peter.
> Festivity of the Cider in Avilés.
> International Festivity of the cider in Nava (FISNAVA). It takes place every two years, during july.
> Gastronomic Conferences of Cider in Nava: at the beginnings of may.Texto: © Ramón Molleda para desdeasturias.com