diumenge, 6 de desembre de 2009

Catalan Xmas traditions

In Catalunya we have two important Xmas traditions. The Tió and the Caganer.

The Tió

The Tió is a wood log that gets its name from the latin "tea". It represents the wood burning on the fireplace that warms the house and protect it from the elements. It has evolved to this magical being that has to be fed for about a week before Xmas and then on Xmas day, by singing a song and beating it with a stick it will "shit" presents.

The "caganer"

The "caganer" is a figure of of a farmer of shepherd with the tipical clothes of the XVI to XVIII centuries, with the trousers down and shitting.

This is just another figure from the imagery of those centuries when the guilds are in its maximum splendor with what they call the "rajoles dels oficis" - depictions of the diferents crafts. During the baroque period, rural scenes were incorpored to the Christmas cribs and the "caganer" figure was incorpored as a realistic symbol of fertilisation of the fields and better crops.

There is a marble relieve from the XVIII century called "The Virgin and the Mountain of Montserrat" that depicts the Virgin Mary with baby Jesus and the mouuntains of Montserrat with its paths alive with characters, and in a little corner a "caganer" is visible.

To have a "caganer" on the Christmas Crib brings good luck and good crops, it is a very popular tradition in Catalunya but also in other places of Spain and Portugal.

Nowadays it has become popular to make the figure of the "caganer" as famous people, like politicians, athletes or artists

Info taken from here

Patatas bravas at Tomàs

You can have patatas bravas in many places of Barcelona, but my alltime favourite by far is Bar Tomàs. The patatas bravas and patatas with allioli are simply amazing....

Now, what are patatas bravas and patatas with allioli?

Patatas bravas are deep fried potatoes with a spicy sauce, which can contain, or not, tomato, red peppers, mayonnaise....

Patatas with allioli are the same patatas but it this case with allioli. Allioli is mayonnaise with fresh garlic. It is delicious but unfortunately it also means that your breath will stink quite a lot :)

If you have the patatas bravas at Tomàs, they are made with allioli AND the bravas sauce, which makes them too spicy to me, call me sissy if you want. So I basically stay with the patatas with allioli.

You can find more info of Tomàs at tripadvisor.

This is a link to an article that the Wall Street Journal did on Bar Tomàs

Bar Tomàs general info:

* Address: Major de Sarrià, 49
* Phone: 932031077
* Opening times: from 12 to 16 and from 18 to 22 (They close on Wednesdays)
* Closest train station: Sarrià

My friend David enjoying some patatas with allioli :)