Sunday, January 17, 2010
Today, on the Feast of St. Anthony, all of Andorra gathers together in various plazas throughout the country to celebrate what is called L'escudella. Escudella, itself, it the name given to a traditional Catalan stew full of delicious things like Catalan sausages, beans, and various vegetables. Apparently in the early 70s some friends in Andorra got together and prepared plates of escudella for their neighbors and the shopkeepers in the area. They were essentially reviving the centuries-old tradition of distributing food among the poorest in the parish on St. Anthony's day, January 17th. As you might have guessed, this became quite popular and now the entire country participates.
Lucky for us, in Andorra la Vella the festivities were taking place just a 5 minute walk from our apartment in the Plaça de Les Arcades. Basically the whole plaza was set up with the Escudellaires working massive vats of stew and then long rows of tables for people to eat at. The stew, as well as bread, dessert, and wine are all free - provided you bring a bowl. If you don't have a bowl they sell really nice commemorative painted bowls for 7€ with the year engraved on it, or even bowls from years past for a few Euros cheaper. The most popular thing to do, however, seemed to be to bring tupperware from home.
Once you show them you have a bowl, they give you a ticket and then you pass through to where you are served hunks of meat and sausage followed by several ladels-worth of stew. Finally there are nice hunks of bread for dipping. At the tables were also porrons, typical glass wine pitchers that one passes from person to person. As you tip the pitcher the wine comes spewing out in a narrow stream - quite daunting if you've never drank from one before. Once we'd finished our stew, which was of course delicious, particularly the nice fat sausage I had in mine, we got back in line for dessert - delicious hunks of tortell, o-shaped pastries filled with marzipan. It was a perfect (not to mention free!) meal for a chilly January afternoon. I certainly hope there are more delicious food festivals in the months to come!