Gastronomy of Pla de l´Estany
Although the cuisine of the region is practically identical to that of La Garrotxa, L'Empordà, Girona or La Selva, it does have its own characteristics deriving from its vegetables and top-quality, indigenous produce, including renowned cold meats and cheeses.
The most common vegetables are broad beans and peas, purple artichokes (grown by some farmers), black turnips, salsifies, rabequets (a very popular squash), mongets (called “banyolins” La Garrotxa, they have either blond or black eyes), Santa Pau beans, chicory and endive pumpkin (for making top-quality salads), pear tomatoes (similar to the so-called pink or Montserrat tomatoes), tomatoes for hanging (for winter), as well as peppers, aubergines, squashes, chilli peppers or peppers for making confits (not found outside this region), broccoli (white or green cauliflower) and onions, and in the past, also Banyoles garlic (pink and very mild) and the local honey. Some farmers produce ecological vegetables.
Traditionally, the outstanding meats were poultry (chicken, duck, goose and pigeon), but also beef and especially lamb.
Fish has always been eaten, due to the relative proximity of the port of L’Escala.
The cold meats are still of top quality: pork (lean or two-coloured), rolled bacon and with pepper, saucisson, fuet (Catalan dry cured pork sausage), black or blood, botifarra Catalan sausage, spicy botifarra, sweet, liver, tongue, white, de perol, paltruc and other botifarras. In the past, there were fresh cow’s milk cheeses and sheep’s milk cottage cheeses, but today the cheeses are normally made from goat’s milk.
The bread and pastries have always been high-quality: pallissó bread, oil or bread pies, rolls, as well as braços (sweet pastry rolls), cakes, suet pastries, xuixos (custard-filled buns), puff pastries and exclusive preparations: tortades and cansalades (almond and egg), rocs de l’Estany, poquibons, etc.
With regard to the family cooking to be found in some restaurants in addition to their range of signature cuisine, the traditional dishes include boiled or stewed vegetables (broad beans, peas, pulses), flour tortillas, casseroled rice with pigeon or morel mushrooms, casseroled noodles, soups, made with squash (rabequet), maize (farro) or mint, as well as stews and roasts (with mushrooms, turnips, etc.), cabbage dumplings and snails with rabbit, cuttlefish, ribs (pork chops), ham, etc. Also very popular were chopped meats, especially lamb and pork, which can still be found today: sang i perdiu (a type of lamb or pork stew), pota i tripa (veal's trotters and belly), liver, sang i fetge (stewed liver), carn de perol (confit of pork) etc.
Olive oil was produced in El Pla de l’Estany. Today it can be found near Banyoles, and it has been awarded the DO Empordà distinction. Wine is also produced, although the must comes from l’Empordà region. However, some places still maintain the tradition of making ratafia (a liqueur made from green walnuts and aromatic herbs).
Traditions and festivals linked to gastronomy still exist: fritters for Sant Antoni or Easter festivals, cakes for Palm Sunday or Candlemas, blessed pastries and breads, Cornellà del Terri Garlic Fair, Crespià Honey Fair, Esponellà Squash Fair.
historian, art critic, writer, teacherof Enogastronomy at the UAB School of Tourism and Hotel Management.