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A trip to Malaga is bound to be memorable, but if you wish for a tangible reminder you may want to take a souvenir home. Avoid the countless shops selling cuddly bulls or tacky little models of flamenco dancers and treat yourself instead to something that truly represents the city’s culture.
A bottle of one of Malaga’s signature sweet wines makes for a perfect gift to take home after a visit to the city. There are plenty of varieties of white, red and rose to choose from but none of them will quite say, “I’ve been to Malaga,” like a bottle of cartojal, the sweet potion that fuels the city’s August feria every year. Cartojal is usually available for around eight or nine euros and comes in pretty pink-and-white bottles, the contents of which will remind you of a wonderful holiday and give your friends a taste of the Andalucian álegria (joy) so characteristic of Malaga’s atmosphere.
Brightly-pained terracotta pots and bowls are a staple of exterior design in Andalusian towns and villages; fixed to the whitewashed walls of traditional houses and often overflowing with scarlet geraniums, they can enliven even the most boring of facades. Andalusian ceramics also make for a good (if fragile) present, bringing a dash of Mediterranean charm to any home or garden. Many such items in Malaga bear Arabic designs, a nod to the city’s great Moorish era.
Continuing with the theme of transplanting a little of southern Spain from Malaga to home, the lovely terracotta bowls in which tapas is often served, are easy to come by in the city. Not only do they hold the heat of their contents well (necessary in Andalusia, where the locals love talking as much as they love eating), these little brown dishes of varying sizes look quintessentially Spanish.
A flamenco-associated memento is a must if you visit Malaga as, like the rest of Andalusia, the city is steeped in this centuries-old tradition and art form. To buy one of the beautiful flamenco dresses worn by the dancers (and also by local women during Malaga’s annual August feria), might seem a little extravagant – decent ones can cost hundreds of euros. For much less outlay, treat yourself to one of the delicate, handmade shawls that are also an important part of flamenco attire. These beautifully-patterned accessories are available in most of Malaga’s souvenir shops and will enable you to effortlessly blend in with the locals. You can complete the effect by buying a typical flamenco-style fan.
If you’re inclined to think that Spain’s most famous dish can be cooked in any kind of pot or pan, locals will quickly put you right. The iconic circular pans in which this colourful seafood medley is put together are the only piece of kitchen hardware up to the task, they will tell you. Given that you’re right by the sea in Malaga and that paella is served in most bars and restaurants, a paella pan of your own is an ideal – albeit slightly unwieldy – souvenir to take home. It will also look cool hanging on your kitchen wall – which is where it will stay unless you find the courage to make this delicious but tricky dish yourself.
If you’re opposed to the spectacle itself, temporary loss of principle will be required when buying one of the beautiful posters that are used to advertise bullfights. The old-fashioned ones are the most ubiquitous in Malaga’s souvenir shops and usually feature paintings depicting the bull gracefully passing through the matador’s cape, along with black lettering naming the bullring, the matadors performing and the farm that raised the fighting bulls. These grand advertisements also line the walls of some of Malaga’s most traditional bars and restaurants, reminding you of the bullfight’s central importance to southern Spanish history and culture (although many Spaniards argue it should no longer be associated with the latter).