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El Campo de Tejada and the chickpea of Escacena

garbanzo Escacena

For millennia, the legendary Tartessian city of Tejada la Vieja was in the same place as the famous chickpeas of Escacena del Campo, a town that lies between Huelva and Seville. They are only grown in very unique soil known as "bujeo" or black soil. They are large, very light yellowish chickpea with deep grooves. These unique green chickpeas in their pods, which are harvested before they ripen, are part of the million kilos of chickpeas that are harvested every year.

Eleven towns in the provinces of Seville and Huelva grow a chickpea that has a Protected Geographical Indication, including Escacena de Campo, which lies in the centre of a region that goes from Olivares (Seville) in the east to Villarasa (Huelva) in the west. With the only quality certification for legumes in Andalusia, it is a white-yellowish grain, with deep grooves on its surface and bulges, measuring at least 8 millimetres. It is tender, buttery and slightly grainy, with soft and fine skin, and extremely tasty.

Another feature of the Escacena chickpea is that it can't be grown just anywhere. It can only grow in plots called "black soil" or "muds" in the province of Huelva, and "bujeo soil" in the province of Seville. It is very deep soil, with a gentle slope and a lot of clay, which barely drains rainwater, thus favouring a great moisture retention capacity.

Another key to its quality is the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and Doñana National Park. The land where this chickpea is grown has a mild microclimate during the months of February and July, which is when planting stage and the beginning of the harvest happen respectively. The microclimate is influenced by the hours of daylight and the south and southwest winds in the area —known as "marea" (tide)—, loaded with humidity from the Atlantic breeze. This freshness makes the chickpeas to ripen more slowly and this enriches their properties.

As vegetarian and even vegan diets are gaining popularity, the Escacena chickpea in its many forms of consumption —from houmous to a classic stew— is, given its quality, a product for gourmets. This unique type of chickpea is promoted by many, such as Xanty Elías, Michelin star chef at Acánthum Restaurant, who uses from green chickpeas to fresh grains in his dishes; or the Huelva councils, which have created the ADN Huelva gastronomic route, featuring this chickpea.

El Campo de Tejada and the chickpea of Escacena