Katalina Gowin from Poland has worked at Turrones Galiana for 20 years, selling the traditional Spanish dessert: turrón. Eaten at Christmas time, turrón is made of only four ingredients: toasted almonds, sugar, honey of the orange tree and egg whites. Sometimes yolk is used instead of egg whites, depending on the type of turrón, of which there are many!
“The turrón we sell is unique. It’s made this way only here. It’s special like us!” says Gowin. A family business established in 1947, Turrones Galiana sells original turrón made in Jijona, a small town in the province of Alicante within the Valencian Community.
As well as continuing to run his family’s turrón shop, manager, Amando Galiana Sabater, has a passion for motorsports and go-karting, leading Turrones Galiana to be the official sponsor for Sabater’s good friend, Jesús Llamas, in his go-karting races. A regular visitor and enthusiastic supporter of the shop, Llamas posts regular updates about his races on Turrones Galiana’s Facebook page. “Here they sell the most successful, popular and authentic turrón,” says Llamas. “They’ve invested a lot in their online shop recently and now have international delivery, so tell all your family and friends!”
Here at ’24/7 Valencia’ we had the pleasure of visiting Turrones Galiana and learning all about (and tasting!) turrón. Check out our exclusive interview with long-time member of the Turrones Galiana family, Katalina Gowin, below.
Can you tell our readers about your background and working here at Turrones Galiana?
I came to Spain during summer 20 years ago. I didn’t have anything to do in Poland and I knew one family from Poland who live near to Valencia. I worked for a Spanish airline before and now I’m here at Turrones Galiana, where I’ve been for 15 years! We do everything in this shop: we sell turrón, we cut turrón and we make the window displays.
We sell many different types of turrón and we have things for vegetarians and vegans here too, including: marzipan, almonds with sugar, chocolate and piñones (coated pine nuts). These piñones are seeds I’ve only seen here in Spain.
Can you tell us more about turrón?
The turrón is made in Jijona, near to Alicante, where it was originally made. You need to make it in Jijona to have the official seal. Every one has a number. It’s possible to go and check with the number to prove it was made in Jijona. There are two main types of turrón: Jijona, the soft kind, and Alicante, which is hard. The ingredients are almonds, honey of the orange tree, sugar and the white part of eggs. It’s very important that the honey is of the orange tree because the flavour is different.
You can make turrón in one day. You toast almonds and mix it with sugar, honey and then it needs one day or two to take out some of the almond oil because, if not, you would taste a lot of oil. The almonds are from Alicante, named marcona, which are very oily. There are about 60 types of almond with different taste, like apples. Marcona are very tasty; they’re the best. The almond oil is a good moisturiser too!
What’s your favourite turrón and what is the most popular with your customers?
My favourite turrón is the soft one made in Jijona. You can take one and crush it with your hand as it’s so soft. If you have a good movie, you can eat this by yourself in one go! The king of the house is the Jijona turrón; we sell the most of this one. In December we sell 2000 kg just of Jijona! It’s made in Jijona and transported in wooden boxes with 12.5 kg of turrón in each box, then I cut it here.
Do you get a lot of customers that come back every year?
Yes. A lot of our customers are from Valencia. We send a lot of turrón to Madrid, Barcelona, England and the US too. Some of the same people come back every year on repeat. We have one customer from Montana whose wife was from Valencia and they lived in Montana. She died about ten years ago but he returns every year to buy the same turrón: the one made with egg yolk. The sugar in that one is toasted, which is why it’s darker. We put a hot iron on the top of it. The man from Montana buys fourteen big blocks of turrón for his friends and family every year. This year I don’t know if it will be possible for him to come to the shop.
How has covid affected Turrones Galiana?
We don’t really know yet because our busiest month is December. We open from October to January: only for four months. Turrón is typical for December and Christmas time; people only want to eat this in December, but it’s possible to eat this all year. We open from 9am to 9pm and we don’t stop selling turrón for 12 hours. There are three people on the counters and two people in the back of the shop making things for us. It’s tiring for your body and your mind but when you finish, you are happy.
You sell a lot and it’s nice to work when you make people happy for Christmas. People go home happy with their things and you know that when they open this it’s delicious! You know you are selling happy things for their family. But your legs and your feet hurt so much, you want to die when you go home! You think no more, no more, I don’t want to return next year! But when you’re asked ‘do you want to return to work for me?’ you say yes. This work is very different to other work. If you work in another shop, whether small or big, it’s different. Here it’s special. There are a lot of people here. It’s crazy but it’s nice, if you like it.
To sample some delicious turrón yourself, head down to Turrones Galiana.
Report and photo by Anna Hart
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