In ancient times, when Vella Quaresma (Old Lady Lent) arrived with her seven legs poking out from under her skirt, everyone knew what it meant: it was time for fasting and abstinence! After all the excesses encouraged by the Carnestoltes (Carnival King), it was time to go on a diet, forsaking meat, eggs and milk in preparation for Easter. However, these restrictions didn’t mean that dishes were plain or basic; not by a long chalk! Our ancestors knew how to make the most of the ingredients that were allowed in order to carry on enjoying good cuisine; traditional dishes that are still made today in homes across Catalonia or at the culinary get-togethers held over the seven weeks of Lent.
1. Cod Gastronomy Days in Pineda de Mar
Cod was allowed during Lent so it became the main substitute for meat in many recipes. Today, this white fish is prepared in all sorts of ways throughout the year but the most delicious recipes are perhaps the ones that combine it with market garden produce. Need some ideas? Head to the Cod Gastronomy Days held in Pineda de Mar in March and you’ll get the chance to taste cod-stuffed peppers, cod with samfaina (Catalan-style ratatouille), salt cold salad or cod with artichokes, among other recipes.
2. Xató Festival in Vilafranca del Penedès
While in Pineda de Mar they celebrate Lent with the Cod Gastronomy Days, the custom in Vilafranca del Penedès is to organise a culinary get-together to pay tribute to their favourite dish. We are of course referring to xató, a salad of curly endive, cod, tune, anchovies and arbequina olives served with romesco (red pepper and nut sauce). But there are as many types of romesco as there are chefs, so don’t miss the tasting prepared during the Xató Festival in Vilafranca, where you’ll discover the recipes of the most famous xató experts in the Garraf and Penedès regions.
3. Pesolda in Caldes d'Estrac
The Pesolda is a culinary event in which local restaurants offer menus with exquisite dishes featuring the “floreta” pea, the most typical pea variety in the Maresme region.
4. Fig Market in Capellades
When the summer draws to an end in Capellades, many households dry out figs in flat sieves lined with lavender. Once the fruits have dehydrated and shrivelled enough in the sun, they’re carefully flattened and stored in little boxes. This is one of the favourite desserts of locals in Capellades, but they’re not the only ones, judging by the number of people who visit this town in the Anoia region during the traditional Fig Market... It’s been held since time immemorial on the second Sunday of Lent. There’s no better place to obtain figs, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and raisins, not to mention the typical codonyat of Capellades, a delicious jam of wine-soaked quince.
Jornades Gastronòmiques del Bacallà a Pineda de Mar
Festa del Xató a Vilafranca del Penedès
Pesolada a Caldes d'Estrac
Mercat figueter a Capellades