The gourmet delights of the Ignatian way

Gastronomy will play an important role in the events that will be held in 2022 to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the visit of Saint Ignatius of Loyola to Manresa. The city is preparing to highlight this event from its history which has made it known around the world. The pilgrims who follow the Way of Ignatius of Loyola towards the capital of the Bages area have inspired the revival of three delicacies that used to be served here in the past: the pilgrim's broth, bullit, or boiled, wine and a sweet cake, which are being offered in restaurants in the region.

The word restaurant itself comes from the restorative broth offered to pilgrims to revive their bodies and spirits. This broth, according to the director of the Fundación Alicia, Toni Massanés, is closely linked to ideas of travel and long journeys. It is 100% plant-based and inspired by the food that Saint Ignatius must have eaten in his day. Meat was hard to come by, but Manresa has always enjoyed an abundance of fruit and vegetables. We know that the mystic ate mostly broth in his periods of abstinence and meditation, and in fact the Cave of Manresa still conserves the wooden bowl from which Saint Ignatius used to drink it.

After a long period of research and studying historical documents, the Joviat Catering School in Manresa and the Fundació Alícia have created a broth with the aromas of roots, herbs and mushrooms from the forests of Bages. It is both light and purifying, and can be enjoyed at any time of the day. Conceived as an infusion of vegetables, it was created for people needing to recover from a long journey, to soothe them both inside and out. The warming liquid transports the travellers who taste it back five centuries. Who knows, it may even help to restore them with its "mystic, curative and spiritual" qualities, as it did for the famous Jesuit in the past.

Besides the pilgrim's broth, investigation into the food from the times of Ignatius has led to the discovery of other contemporary dishes. This is the case of bullit wine and the pilgrim's cake. The Pla de Bages Wine Region is reviving this wine that was popular in the region, but has fallen out of favour in recent years. A number of bakeries and cake shops have also developed a sweet cake made of almonds, similar to the traditional carquiñolis. They make up a singular, unusual type of cooking that takes us back in time and reveal an ancient part of our culinary traditions.

Did you know?

Bullit wine is a traditional sweet wine that was made in the homesteads of the Bages region five hundred years ago. The Pla del Bages wine region is now working to revive this speciality. It is made by heating the grape must so that part of its water content evaporates, concentrating the sugars that naturally occur in the flesh of the grape. It is then transferred to a barrel and left to ferment in the cellar. Once fermentation has come to an end naturally, the bullit is ready to start the aging process, after which experts will ensure that the resulting wine is balanced and thoroughly enjoyable.

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