2012 15/02

The Festival of the Calçotada in Valls

An article from David Leigh about the wonders of the winter calçotadas in Valls.

photo of Calçots roasting during a calçotada

Calçots roasting during a calçotada

If you stop for a moment and think about food and Spain I bet you get no further than paella and tapas. However, while both of these can be good the quality, particularly of paella, can be quite variable as many of those served in fixed menu restaurants at lunchtime are pre-made.

And Spanish cooking doesn’t start and end with just those. In Barcelona these days you can find cuisine from all over the world. However, if you’re just visiting for a weekend or a few days then why eat what you can get at home when you can try something new.

One of my favourite times of the year in Catalonia, at least as far as food goes, is winter. While temperatures can really plunge, which takes many visitors by surprise, the food can make up for it. Boiled chicken with vegetables and chickpeas might not sound particularly interesting but it certainly warms you up in winter and makes a great tasting soup base when there is snow on the ground. Good as it is, its something you’ll find in the Catalan home rather than in a restaurant and so unlikely to be on the menu anyway. Read the rest of this article…

2011 22/09

La Mercè 2011

La Mercè 2011 programme cover

La Mercè 2011 programme cover

La Mercè starts today! Barcelona’s very own annual festival that celebrates the Roman Catholic feast day of Our Lady of Mercy, La Mare de Déu de la Mercè in Catalan. The feast day is on Saturday but in true Catalan style the festivities kick off a couple of days beforehand.

From the Mercè 2011 programme…

Modernity, tradition, gunpowder, street theatre, circus, dance, music… Just mix them all together, stir, and you have the festive cocktail that is being served up in Barcelona these days. For the city is celebrating the feast of its patron saint, La Mercè, a compendium of Mediterranean festivities, authentic Catalan traditions and the talent of artists from all over the world. No one interested in plumbing the very soul of Barcelona and Catalonia can afford to miss this festival, whose special guest this year is the Russian city of Saint Petersburg.

Read the rest of this article…

2011 15/08

Festa Major de Gràcia 2011

The balconies of the Festa Major de Gràcia

The 195th running of the Festa Major de Gràcia starts today (Mon 15th Aug 2011) and runs all week until Sun 21st August.

This Gràcia festival was my first experience of any of the barrio festivals when I arrived in Barcelona just over a year ago. I went to the Poble Sec festival just recently and I have to say, even with their Correfoc, it isn’t a patch on the Gràcia experience. In terms of size, entertainment and all round effort, nothing beats Gràcia. Read the rest of this article…

2011 23/06

L’Ou com Balla (The Dancing Egg)

The Dancing Egg (L’Ou com Balla)

The Dancing Egg (L’Ou com Balla)

Today is the Feast of Corpus Christi, a Western Catholic tradition. Catholics (and a few other religions) celebrate this day with processions through the streets of towns and cities around the world.

But something that seems to be unique to Barcelona (or certainly Catalonia) is the tradition of L’Ou com Balla (the Dancing Egg).

There are many stories as to its origins. Some say it’s a metaphor for the cycle of life or simply that it was an amusement for the nobles as the processions went by (which I much prefer). But it does seem to have been going on for a rather long time. Since the sixteenth century! That’s quite a few eggs!

Read the rest of this article…

2011 14/02

Valentine’s Day? Nah, let’s stick with St. George’s Day

Valentine’s Day in Spain is not a traditional Spanish celebration. But the same applies in Spain as it does in many countries around the world. Gifts and cards are exchanged. Roses, cupids and hearts adorn everything. And chocolate sellers do very well. But where does it all come from? Read the rest of this article…

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