The mysterious origin of dates with bacon

If last week we sang here the excellences of the spun egg, another culinary icon of Christmas, king of the hors d’oeuvre and glory of national pop gastronomy, could not miss the gastronomic event: the date wrapped in bacon. Beside him, nothing have to do the gluttony tarts or the muffins with pate. Dates with bacon – heavenly combination that fattens as few things in life – marked a before and after in the national hospitality and proof of this is that despite modernity, anti-fat war and avant-garde kitchen veleities Currently, they remain a staple of Christmas tables.

It is true that sausages with bacon and even mussels wrapped in idem arrived earlier, but what really devastated the elegant snacks of the 70s was the mixture of bacon and dates, wise mixture of the sweetness of the fruit of the palm tree with the blunt And tasty pork fat. These addictive dates wrapped in bacon, fried or baked with almond fillings are also known as “Elche delights” due to the overwhelming success that the preparations obtained at the ilicitano Hotel Huerto del Cura. With so many palm groves and fresh dates on hand, it was logical that the chefs of Elche ended up plotting some genius with them and according to the Orts family (who founded the hotel next to the botanical garden of the Huerto del Cura) it was right there that this star dish was invented . Specifically, in March 1972 and served as a world novelty in the opening cocktail of its establishment. Dates, bacon and tourist boom all together. I have no doubt that, as José Orts said, these date skewers were used at that time and it was not his hotel that made them fashionable, but the problem is that the dates rolled in bacon were invented long before.

For example, the recipe appeared as we know it now in a book about Spanish cuisine published in New York in 1963. ‘The art of Spanish cooking’, written by Betty Wason, brought the good news of Spanish cuisine to the United States including a large chapter of tapas in which baked dates with baked bacon stood out. It is worth noting that they had almonds inside and that these constitute one of the signs of identity of the delights of Elche, but in 1967 for example, some dates appeared already beaten and with their almonds inside in the magazine ‘Kitchen and Home’. At the beginning of the 70s and before the hotel was inaugurated, the recipe was already a reality and it was not difficult to see it, between sandwiches and croquettes, in the “Spanish wines” or buffets with snacks from Madrid or Barcelona.

But then, are they from Elche or where? Well, most likely, a coincidence — or rather, the very happy and ideal union of its ingredients — caused very similar elaborations to be born in different places. In fact, if we had to give the scoop to someone it would not be any Spanish cook: in English this bite is known as “devils on horseback” (ravens on horseback), prunes or dates wrapped in bacon (and stuffed with almond or cheese!) of which there are written recipes since at least 1907. You see that sometimes assigning a specific origin to a recipe means catching your fingers …


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