Malaga and its symbols

by Lorraine Williamson

MALAGA – Biznagueros, cenacheros and boquerones have in common that they are the symbols of the city of Malaga. However, you will no longer find cenacheros except in statue form in the park along the harbour. 

Biznagueros are men who carefully pluck buds from jasmine plants during the day and prick them at home, often with the help of family members, one by one on the dried stems of angel herb. These stems are then inserted into a cactus leaf that has been stripped of its spines. Then the biznaguero puts on his traditional suit (black pants, white shirt and red sash) to hit the road at sunset to sell them in the streets of Malaga.  

Golden biznaga

Malaga symbols

Years ago, the now-deceased famous biznaguero Tony told that one day he sold about a hundred biznagas for €3 each. He thought it was very funny that some guiris (Spanish term for foreigners from Northern Europe) put his “flowers” in a vase of water at home. A biznaga, Arabic for “gift from God”, lasts from one to a day and a half. With their strong scent, they also help repel mosquitoes. The biznaga is also the symbol of the Malaga film festival annually in April and in this corona year in June. The best film will receive a golden biznaga. 


Malaga symbols

A cenachero was a fishmonger who sold his fish in cenachos; straw baskets. Until the early 20th century, the cenacheros stood on the beach waiting for the fishing boats to deliver their catch in the surf. The baskets filled with fresh fish then “danced” in the arms of the fishmongers until everything was sold to passers-by. A common fish in these cenachos, and which is still pretty much on every menu in Malaga, was the boqueron. The anchovies are so typical of Malaga that those born and raised in the city are nicknamed “boqueron”. Usually you eat the fish pickled in vinegar; boquerones al vinagre, or fried; boquerones fritos. 

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