All about Mardi Gras... in Spain
Egg sausage, coca de llardons, and omelette: the culinary delights of carnival!
Carnival is, above all, a festival guided by transgression: for a whole week, roles are turned on their head, rules become more lax and debauchery reigns. During carnival, there are many ways to break the rules – hide your face behind a mask, publish satirical decrees, play at being someone else by wearing a costume – and also through food. This is why food takes centre stage at so many points during the festival: it starts with a big meal on Fat Thursday and ends with the burial of the sardine and the subsequent banquets.
And this is the reason why traditional recipe books are full of dishes associated with this festival.
From the fuet family, the butifarra is one of the most typical of Catalan dishes. It is made similarly to fuet, but using pig’s parts. There are various types: butifarra negra (similar to Spanish morcilla), butifarra blanca (white butifarra) and egg butifarra. This last one is typical during Carnival, as it is related to a typical tradition.
Greixoneres dolces, sardines… All this culinary celebration derives from the fact that, in the olden days, carnival was a time of laxness and debauchery before the austerity of Lent, which, in contrast, was a period of purification and abstinence marked by the Catholic religion for seven weeks. In days gone by, between carnival and Easter, followers of the faith would ‘fast’ and would follow a strict diet in which meat and eggs were forbidden. This is the reason these two products are the kings of the carnival diet.
On the other hand, Lent is also associated with a whole series of dishes. Throughout these weeks, salted cod is the star dish and it is surely for this reason that it is said that in Catalonia there are more than 100 different recipes for preparing it. In the olden days, it was a cheap and austere product that was associated with the rigors of Lent, but today it is a highly regarded part of their culinary repertoire. Another typical product eaten during Lent are bunyols, a type of doughnut. Nowadays they are found in bakeries every day of the week, but they used to be available only on Wednesdays and Fridays.
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