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After a slight distraction with the Romans, we're back on track to sample what is, if you believe the locals, the best food and architecture in the world.

Some 50km outside of Leon we're divining for them both in Astorga. Here is a sleepy town (during the daytime at least; who knows what they get up to in the evening) with the odd gaggle of shell-seeking backpackers roaming the back alleys. Get the annoying one-way system right though and you'll be rewarded with the Bishop's mystery Palace.

This being Spain, there's little room for architectural suspense. Yes. It's a Gaudi. Astorga's late 1800's Bishop commissioned what at the modest and geometrically palatable end of the fantasy and one of my understated favorites.

Five kilometers to the west (dodging more shell-wanderers) and there's an even more sleepy village. So sleepy that everybody actually forgot about it, Castrillo de los Polvazares is for one reason or another 500 metres of olden, barren high street. A Spanish friend told us of a traditional countryside three course meal of soup, chickpeas and meat prepared together and served separately. In Castrillo de los Polvazares the merchant traders we're so on edge about an incoming marketing opportunity that the meal was served in reverse to ensure they didn't miss out on the good stuff.

So the tradition, in this one traditional village has remained. Maybe they still do trade on a barter system or perhaps they run on tourism but the locals are waiting with a couple of beautifully traditional restaurants and a big smile to serve Cocido Maragato.

Cocido Margato is basically an overwhelming plate of chops, sausage, belly, trotters, chorizo, cabbage and potatoes. It's like a pork mixed grill where everything has instead been stewed for hours. Before you've chance to make a sizable dent on the platter they bring out a heap of chickpeas, bread and a vat of soup.

Put it anywhere else and it's a mountain of basic sustenance fit for a day in the fields. Which is what it is. Within these surrounds it's a meal through history. Our search for the future of global cuisine continues.

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