Lacón con grelos is a traditional Galician dish and it is commonly cooked during carnival, when the turnip tops are at their best, and the winter's cold entice people to enjoy the hearty cured pork meat. In Cuntis, this meal has been the centrepiece of one the most important celebrations of the town, declared Festival of Tourist Interest in Galicia, for more than two decades.
The Lacón con Grelos Festival is held every year on the first Sunday after carnival, and it marks the end of this colourful celebration, with its rituals and traditions. The highlight of the event is, of course, the food tasting, having the lacón con grelos as main dish. It is served with potatoes, and filloas (traditional Galician crepes) for dessert. A large marquee, placed at the Constitución Square, is set up to accommodate all the visitors who come to taste this delicious recipe, which can also be enjoyed in the local restaurants and bars.
The programme of the festival includes music performances, and some other traditional activities, as the camellia bonsai exhibition, a demonstration of bobbing lace and a route with classic motorbikes. For those attending the motorcycle show, a party inspired in the 60s, known as Vespaguateque is celebrated the night before the food event.
In the evening, after serving more than 2,500 plates of lacón con grelos and filloas, the Chapante appears. Its name refers to the popular nickname of the people from Cuntis, as they are considered good eaters.
While in other towns of As Rías Baixas there are characters as the Sardine, the Ravachol, the Momo or the Meco, in Cuntis people say goodbye to the carnival by setting the Chapante on fire. Widows, women mourners, vergers and friends accompany the figure, symbolizing sharp criticism of greedy and lazy people, to the sound of prayers on his last march through the town centre. Finally, the "great eater" is burnt to close the food event and the carnival.
A tapas contest
Another event connected to the Lacón con Grelos Festival is the Tapa Lacón Contest, usually held some weeks before the great day. Local bars and restaurants are encouraged to reinvent the traditional recipe of lacón con grelos with original and innovative tapas. Customers will choose the best tapas of the contest.
What to do in Cuntis?
Cuntis is well known for the mineromedicinal properties of its spring waters, which are the main attraction of the town. The spa offers varied services, from therapeutic to cosmetic treatments, which can be booked separately or as part of a programme lasting several days. In addition, as hydrotherapy has been an everyday activity since the 19th century, now there is a wide range of accommodation facilities, including two four-star hotels and several guesthouses.
The town is also important for its archaeological heritage. The hillfort settlement in the place of Castrolandín dates back to the Iron Age, and it is a must visit, both for the value of its hillfort as for its location, on the top of a hill in the valley of the Gallo River. The interpretation centre Fundación Terra Termarum Castrolandín, whose base houses an archaeological exhibition in the town centre, offers guided visits to the site.