On New Year’s Eve morning, Catalunya held its first ever big holiday lottery, La Grossa, in order to raise extra money for Catalan social services, and in competition with the big Spanish lottery. I liked the idea that the proceeds would remain in Catalunya and collaborated by buying several tickets. Two of these I gave away as gifts, and four I kept for myself. I don’t generally buy lottery tickets and I had bought these to help the cause more than to gamble. But once you have a ticket, you succumb to gambling fever. Sadly none of my four won anything.
Last year I went to the Cavalcada dels Reis – the Kings parade – always held on the eve of the 6th of January, and realized that I don’t like being in a crowd. I had gone significantly early to stand in the cold and get a good spot to shoot photos from, only to be usurped by others who came later and felt they had a claim to be in front because they had small children. Maybe they were right. In any case, they blocked my vantage point for taking decent photos.
And like I said, I don’t really like being in crowds. So rather than go through the same discomfort and frustration, this year I simply didn’t go. To hell with the photos. I also didn’t buy a tortell de Reis. This is a ring pastry, traditionally filled with marzipan and washed down with cava (Catalan sparkling wine). Somewhere inside is a little figure of a king and a fava bean. Whoever gets the slice with the king gets to wear a crown; whoever gets the bean gets to pay for the tortell. This seems a sensible arrangement to me but since I was alone, I decided to stick with the pannetone that I already had on hand. And anyway, I don’t like cava (or champagne).
I know what you’re thinking. Bah humbug. But that’s not really true. I did go out on the 5th, during the day, over to Castelló d’Empuries where I enjoyed a lovely view of the snow-covered Pyrenees, walked around the cute village, and bought yet another torró.
Torró is the special Christmas candy that I can very happily relate to and eat. I have several favorites of the many flavors they make. So far this year I’ve had marzipan, chocolate/Cointreau, and chocolate/whiskey from Castelló. I also bought a designer torró made by Albert Adrià, best-chef-in-the-world Ferran Adrià’s brother. I don’t know what special ingredient he used, but I don’t like it. I think in general, I prefer traditional food to new-fangled chemically-inspired creations.
Not to end on a bah humbug note, when I got back to Figueres I found the neighborhood I usually park in packed with cars. So I drove off a little further, just alongside the staging area for that night’s parade. This way I got to enjoy a small preview of the evening’s festivities, in full daylight, with chocolate/whiskey torró in one hand and camera in the other and no one planted in front of me to block my view.