66 million millenary olive trees in its territory, 20% of the extra virgin olive oil production in the world, at least 20 centuries of knowledge of the labor in the field with the oil, hundreds of families linked to this ingredient of our cuisine. Love for the land, a recipe book that goes beyond the conventional and a transcendence beyond its borders… this defines the city of Jaén and its know-how with extra virgin olive oil.

Jaén, April 18, 2023 .- The City Council of Jaén, through its Municipal Board of Culture, Tourism, Festivals and Historical Heritage, has decided to submit a candidacy for UNESCO Creative City for Gastronomy in 2023. It will do so using as a common thread its most iconic product, recognized worldwide and that defines not only the dynamics of the city but also the culture of its inhabitants: extra virgin olive oil. That is why the project will be called Jaén, olive oil tradition..

It encourages creativity in the exercise of sustainable development in Jaén, starting from the olive as the main ingredient of the Jaén and Mediterranean diet is something that the city has already been developing organically for centuries. Its contribution goes beyond that: it influences circular sustainability in terms of health, environmental and economic sustainability. This is why we can speak of sustainable urban, environmental and socioeconomic development.

What are UNESCO Creative Cities?

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network was created in 2004 to promote cooperation between cities that identify creativity as a strategic factor in sustainable urban development. The 246 cities that currently make up the Network work together towards a common goal: to place creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their local development plan and to cooperate actively at the international level in this field.

They must all support and contribute to Unesco’s objectives in their sustainable urban development plan. Cities can develop their strategic plans in these 7 areas: cinema, literature, music, popular art, design, digital art and gastronomy.

In Spain, 10 cities currently have this recognition: Granada in 2014 and Barcelona in 2015, for Literature; Terrassa (2017) and Valladolid (2019), in the cinema category; for music, Seville (2006) and Llíria (2019); Manises (2021) for popular art; and for design Bilbao in 2014. In addition to the 2 cities that already hold this recognition in the field of gastronomy, Burgos (2015) and Denia (2015). Jaén is establishing contact with both in order to develop joint actions and share the goal of reaching further the positioning of our gastronomy.

Why Jaén, why now?

It can be said that the city of Jaén is at its best moment for gastronomy. From San Ildefonso to the area of the Constitución, passing through the Plaza de las Batallas or the Bulevar, we can have tapas in different places with quality products and recipes. There are two Michelin-starred restaurants in the city: Bagá, by chef Pedro Sánchez, also with international recognition (OAD), and Damajuana, by Juan Aceituno. Also recommended in this guide are three other restaurants: Casa Antonio, Mangas verdes and Yuma’s.

Arroz caldoso, potaje de cuaresma, revuelto de collejas, alcauciles en vinagre, reclutas, bacalao encebollado, choto al ajillo….. These are just some examples of traditional recipes used in Jaén. Many of them use products from its three Denominations of Origin, which certify the agri-food quality of its olive oils: Sierra de Cazorla, Sierra de Segura and Sierra Mágina.

In addition to the Protected Designations of Origin, Jaén has a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) that includes all the extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) of the province. It is the first PGI of EVOO recognized in Spain by Brussels. These quality seals make it clear that in Jaén the oil takes all the spotlight, always for its nutritional value.

A history that takes us back to the 1st century

It is impossible to gather centuries of history and work with extra virgin olive oil and all that it has contributed to the development of culture, society and the economy not only of the province of Jaén, but of the national territory.

The writings allow us to situate the origin of the olive grove in the Classic Era, since for the Romans it was a primordial good to sustain their empire. A clear example is found in the capital of Jaén, within the Archaeological Zone of Marroquíes Bajos. Located 2 km from the city center on a small elevation of about 2.5 ha, the Roman Villa of Cortijo de los Robles is an area linked to the production of oil between the 1st century AD and 2nd century AD.

Several archaeological studies place the first oil mill in the 3rd century AD. There began a path that still persists and is key to our development.

Nowadays, chefs, restaurants, people from Jaén, develop new recipes every day to show the possibilities of this ingredient, but they do it relying on tradition, on the recipes of their ancestors that have been passed from one hand to another.

What the action plan contemplates

Jaén, olive tradition contemplates the development of actions in three lines: gastronomy of the city, health and R&D and sustainability.

The main organizations and agents of the sector in Jaén are involved and committed to this plan that will further promote gastronomy and the development of extra virgin olive oil as a relevant product for its development.

In recent months many are the actions in which Jaén, olive tradition has been present, such as Kocínema, a film and gastronomy exhibition; Consentidos, a musical cycle with tourist-cultural and gastronomic experiences; the Jaén Foodie International Congress or the First Olive Oil Festival of Jaén.

Events related to the world of wine have also taken place, such as the participation in the 6th edition of the Course for Sommeliers at the Basque Culinary Center and the hosting of the Regional Sommelier Championship 2022.

On the other hand, within Expoliva, the largest meeting of International Olive Oil and Related Industries, which is held from 10 to 13 May this year in the city of Jaén, this creative initiative will be present with a large interactive space.

Prior to this, on May 9 at the Palacio del Condestable, an event will be developed jointly with Tunisia, as a sign of twinning between the two cities, being Tunis creative city of Unesco. It will be a concert of Tunisian music, by Monia Abdelali Trio, and flamenco fusion by the hand of an artist from Jaén, in which gastronomy will feature dishes representative of both territories. This relationship already began in 2021 with the meeting with the Tunisian ambassador in Spain, Fatma Omrani.

Since 2021, work began on this objective, already presenting Jaén, olive tradition at Fitur in January 2022, and activating some actions with restaurants, something that will continue in the coming months. An interactive room has also been created in Jaén’s tourist office dedicated entirely to olive oil and Jaén’s gastronomy.

The website jaenciudadgastronomica.com contains all the information about this project and all the details about the elements that position Jaén as a gastronomic city.