On the mountain road from Ronda to Carmona I spotted a couple pulling a giant thistle plant and placing it carefully in a sack. The thistle was almost as big as they were and I wondered what they were planning to do with it. Later that day we had lunch in an outstanding restaurant overlooking the vast plain. We sat inside where it was dark and cool and watched the tables of elderly men silently eating their way through numerous courses and pausing occasionally to call for another bottle of wine. I started with croquetas, delicate white sauce miraculously covered with the lightest coating of crisp crumb. Spanish croquetas have infinite variations - these incorporated wild thistle, a local delicacy.