Mmm, I love Lalín stew!

It is a Galician typical dish that can be tasted as autumn arrives. If you want to enjoy it, the best time is the Sunday before Carnival. This is a date that should be marked in the calendar to visit rías Baixas and, in particular, Lalín.

In 1969 it became an official festival, by a joint proposal from the six mayors from the region of Deza. It is held in the capital, Lalín, which, for several days, hosts events related to the culture of the stew. Apart from parades and brass band performances, stalls are placed in the Campo da Feira Vella (ancient market) where you can buy best quality products. At noon many local restaurants offer the special dish prepared in the most traditional way.

It has become a high profile festival, especially because of the election of the person that makes the opening speech, usually a national celebrity. The boom that has experienced the festival in recent years has attracted many outsiders, who had the opportunity to taste and learn more about the peculiarities that make it different from other stews cooked in Spain, such as the maragato, lebaniego, that from escullera, the montañés or the stew from Madrid.

To whet your appetite you can imagine a dish with the following ingredients, according to the official recipe: potatoes, beans, chickpeas, turnip tops, onion chorizos and Lalín chorizos, pork shoulders, cured backbone roast, pork ribs, veal and chicken, pork head, pork tail, snout, tongue, lard, animal fat and ear. Preparation starts several days before and it needs to be boiled for several hours, with vapours heating all houses and restaurants of the capital of Deza.

But the celebrations begin much earlier. Since 15 January, Saint Amaro's Day, until 14 February, Saint Valentine's Day, Lalín lives the month of the stew, with more than 30 restaurants offering this delicious dish, and about 5,000 guests a day.

If you do not dare to taste a stew dish, you can try the tapas and bites prepared for the contest "Os bocadiños do cocido" (bites of stew).

On the slaughtering day, one of the 51 parishes in Lalín ensures that this is done according to ancient traditions, becoming a cultural and neighbouring activity. Then tastings of typical products are offered. The visit may be extended to the villages of Doade and Zobra, or places like Casa do Patrón ethnographic museum, where you can get a glimpse into the old trades and animal care, which were basic daily activities in the family life of the Galician villages.

For all these reasons, this festival differs from other gastronomic events in its ethnographic and genuine characteristics and, at the same time, in the hospitality that locals offer to the people who come each year attracted for something more than the gastronomy. In this winter festival, a prelude to Carnival, we can enjoy tasty stew dishes in the best company.

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