The flavours of La Anoia

La Anoia is a county that has a wide range of local produce: pulses, like the chickpeas of Alta Anoia, cereals, such as the papelero rice, the tasty butifarra sausage of Calaf, and many more products, such as wildflower honey and olive oil. The range of food products that are grown, processed or manufactured in the county is very wide, although in many cases, little known. We are going to take a look at the foods which are the essence of Anoia, exploring the most highly-appreciated flavours of the county.

The chickpeas of Alta Anoia are small, smooth and fine-skinned, but their volume increases three times over during cooking. It is a local speciality which has been handed down within families over many generations and is perfectly adapted to the environment, with some exceptional qualities for cooking. There are several producers in the county, some of whom practice ecological farming, like Fruits del Secà, in Sant Pere Sallavinera, and Pep Mestre, in Argençola. You can buy them in several places, including the store of the AgroIgualada cooperative

Discovering the produce and gastronomy of a region is an interesting way to explore its geography. To taste a little of what life was like in the many paper mills that were set up in the county of La Anoia, you only have to order a dish of  "paperer" rice, a recipe that dates back to the XVIII Century but is still served in the restaurants of the region. It is a dish made of meat (lamb or veal shank) and rice cooked with onion, tomato, lard, laurel and a dash of wine. It is a dish steeped in the history and the way of life that revolved around the mills.

The Butifarra de Calaf is made in the area of Alta Anoia. It is a sausage made of the best cuts of pork mixed with bacon fat and seasoned with salt and pepper. Calaf is also famous for the eggs produced in the region, which are noted for their quality. They come from the farm run by the Frauca family, who have been raising hens for their eggs since the middle of the last century.

The origins of papelero rice

The origins of this dish date back to the 18th century, and the old paper mills of the region. In that period, the number of paper mills that were clustered around the source and tributaries of the river Anoia made the region one of the busiest areas for paper production. Capellades and La Pobla de Claramunt are two of the towns that relied heavily on this industry, although we know that most of the towns in this county had at least one paper mill. The paper made here, especially the deckle-edge paper and cigarette papers, were sold in the Spanish market and those of the American colonies. The dish known as papelero rice evolved to provide the sustenance that ensured that the workers of this industry had enough energy to withstand their long working days.

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