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Pimentos, street, smoke, tradition

Driving through the Rioja capital of Haro, after a wonderful visit to Vina Tondonia winery, we were looking for a recommended restaurant for an early dinner before starting our return journey home. Losing our way in the winding narrow streets, we saw some elderly women sitting on low chairs and a wisp of smoke in the background. The aroma of roasted pepper filled the air.

Peppers were brought to Spain, and the Old World, from Mexico and South America by Columbus in 1493 returning from the voyages of discovery. At the end of summer, when the peppers are the ripest, reddest and juiciest, villagers gather to roast them over an open fire, to peel off the blackened skins, tear the flesh into strips, and to bottle to store for the winter.

Served with tapas, chorizos, tortillas, stuffed or basically anything that comes to mind, pimientos asados are a mainstay of Spanish cuisine.

After a long night drive we finally got to our Madrid hotel, the smoke will wash out of our clothes, but the sight of these elderly Spaniards maintaining a centuries-old tradition will long be a wonderful memory.

David Silverman is a wine, travel and lifestyle photographer whose work is distributed worldwide by Getty Images

Photos and text by David Silverman/dpsimages. Copyright © 2016. All Rights Reserved.

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