The stew season in Lalín: from Saint Amaro's Day to Saint Valentine's Day


"The stew season in Lalín: from Saint Amaro's Day to Saint Valentine's Day". This sentence that belongs to the local collection of proverbs is a classic in the town of Lalín. It marks the period in which its most popular dish, the cocido (meat and vegetable stew), is in its finest moment. The pots pile up in the stoves and the scent of the traditional Galician vegetable stew spreads throughout the town.

There is no reason that prevents you from seating at the table to taste the recipe that Lalín has turned into an international festival during a season in which the temperatures are much more pleasant compared to other years. On 19 February –always the Sunday before Carnival–it will take place its celebration day, with the 49th edition of a gastronomic festival declared Festival of Tourist Interest.

It became institutionalised in 1969 thanks to the joint proposal of six mayors of the region of Deza. This event pays homage to the traditional cuisine, a way to prepare the traditional stew that is very different from other stews in Spain such as the maragato (traditional stew from Maragatería, León), the lebaniego (stew from Liébana, Cantabria), the montañés (stew from Cantabria), the stew from Madrid or the escudella (stew from Catalunya).

After the presentation of the poster with the festival programme–one of the most awaited elements year after year–(the design of the poster for this edition is a work by the visual artist Misha Bies Golas from Lalín), it is time to take a seat. The traditional recipe of the capital of the region of Deza brings to the table more than ten ingredients: pork spine, streaky bacon, pork chop, salted pig's ears and pig trotters, tongue, free range chicken, beef and chorizos from Lalín. They are the leading actors of a dish in which vegetables and legumes are invited actors and there are always big broad beans, chickpeas, potatoes and turnip tops.

The tasting of a stew dish from Lalín is an experience that needs to be enjoyed in a slow and unhurried manner and its preparation is a slow process too. In fact, it begins four days before being tasted. First you have to desalt the lacón (pork shoulder) in cold water, which needs to be changed every twenty-four hours. Two days later, each piece of meat that is going to be cooked in the pot is thoroughly cleaned up; after that this process will be repeated with the lacón. The day before boiling the stew will be the moment to leave the chickpeas and the broad beans to soak and, according to the people from Lalín, they must always be placed into different pots.

Winter is, therefore, one of the best times to visit the northern part of the province of Pontevedra. The stew season in Lalín brings this dish closer to thousands of guests that visit daily the capital of Deza and its many restaurants. Furthermore, this festivity is always accompanied by a long ludic and cultural programme that stands out because of its ethnographic, musical or artistic activities such as the art exhibition Cocido das Artes, which also includes charity performances. During this festival traditional meat and vegetable stalls are set up in Campo da Feira Vella where the pig slaughter is another major attraction. This longstanding tradition, which was performed practically in almost every Galician rural house until recently, now is been shown in the different parishes of Lalín and it is accompanied by the tasting of national products obtained from pig slaughter.

The Cocido Festival and the weeks of previous activities, a prelude to Carnival, are the perfect moment to get to know the whole region. The region of Deza, which also comprises the municipalities of Silleda, Agolada, Rodeiro, Dozón and Vila de Cruces, enables the visitors to enjoy a landscape of unique spots. The waterfall of the River Toxa, the Monastery of Carboeiro, the pendellos (the place where the fairs were hold and the goods were stored in the past) of Agolada, the mountains of O Candán, the islands of Gres or the Pazo (Galician manor) of Liñares are locations that always make an impression on the visitors.

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