dilluns, 13 d’abril del 2009

Street markets-fairs

5th April 2009. It was a perfect sunny Sunday in my hometown, Vilafant (north-east Catalonia, next to Figueres). It couldn't have been a better day for the activity that was being held: a street market fair. The main streets where filled with stalls selling cheese, cakes, sweets, earrings, rings, necklaces, hippy clothes, bags, handbags, color books and "brunyols" (fritters), among other things. However, the meeting point, the Plaça Major (Main Square), with its 105-old plantain, was the reason for all the other stalls. In the Square were the restaurant stalls, where rabbit-based dishes were served. This could not have been other way, since the market was dedicated to the rabbit.

Vilafant's main square with the stalls where you taste the rabbit. To taste
the rabbit you are given the piece of wood I'm holding.

In Vilafant, every first April Sunday a market-fair dedicated to the rabbit is held. And the Plaça Major is where a dozen of restaurants of the area cook rabbit in different ways: rice and rabbit, rabbit with chestnuts and moustard sauce, rabbit with squids, etc...(this year there was even rabbit ice-cream! -I didn't it like much, I confess).

In Catalonia, rabbit meat is a usual thing to eat. Other strange things we eat is snails (and they are not bad if you cook them with a good sauce). Also, in my area, it is quite normal to have meat and fish dishes (or as we call here "Mar i muntanya" -Sea and mountain), as we have mountains and we have see. Hence, the mixture rabbit-squid is a plausible thing to eat.

I like this kind of street markets. There are thousands of markets of the kind all around Catakab villages and they are all structured the same: there is a main theme, usually something related to the village (the Cherry fair in Llers, the Cheese fair in Lladó, the Garnatxa and brunyol fair in Garriguella). Sometimes, these fairs have a historic reason (medieval fairs in Castelló d'Empúries and Montblanc and Renaissance fair in Tortosa, for example), or they are exclusive for one thing, like the antiques, old toys, stamps and numismatic fairs. Most of times this markets are accompanied by parallel activities. In the case of medieval and Renaissance markets, for instances, street theatre and art goes on. In the specific case of my village, the rabbit fair is the end of a "cultural week" and in the afternoon we have the "Throwing bricks competition", organized by the theatre group "La totxana" (The brick).

A moment in the "Throwing bricks competition". The further
you throw the brick. the better (No worries, there are protection measures).

In my opinion, these fairs are one aspect of our cultural heritage. It is not only knowing villages, and eating good food, it is also knowing about our traditions and learning about popular culture.