Since 2015, Dénia is part of the worldwide network of Creative Cities, a UNESCO initiative that sums 180 cities from 72 countries. And here’s why.
Each city of the network is included in one of the seven categories: Crafts & Folk Art, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Music or Media Arts. Alongside other cities such as Parma in Italy, Florianopolis in Brazil, or Phuket in Thailand, Dénia is member of the gastronomic network of the Creative Cities.
The ample space for traditional fishing, the constant promotion of healthy food based on local resources and products with the goal of ensuring more sustainable development were among the main reasons that put Dénia on the creative map. Its historical legacy as well, as the gastronomy of the whole area is the fruit of over 2,000 years. The Phoenicians introduced grapevines, Romans their food conservation methods, and Muslims a way of cultivating products and preparing them in the kitchen. All of these have been maintained to date, and each generation has further enriched them with its creativity.
Among the most well-known dishes of local gastronomy we only mention now arroz a banda or rice cooked with fish stock; the red prawn of Dénia, boiled or grilled; the coques of the Marina; or the polp amb penques, or the octopus with cardoons. All recipes use local products from the sea or the land, and age-old cooking methods. All the region’s towns experience gastronomy as an essential element of public fiestas and celebrations. These are festivities that take place in the streets, where wood-fired ovens are set up for cooking rices or preparing popular stews, like Llandeta de peix.
The largest, most active professional association of gastronomy in Dénia brings together the hotel, restaurant and gastronomy sector, and the city hosts two culinary training centres. The city also celebrates, each year, a culinary debate forum and a creative cooking contest aimed at professionals – the International Creative Cuisine Competition of the Red Prawn of Dénia,which has an annual participation of 50 chefs worldwide.