Lying in the north west corner of Spain, with a significant stretch of its coastline on the Atlantic Ocean, Galicia has a very distinct identity compared with the rest of the region, with Celtic roots that are separate from most of the other regions of Spain. The cuisine here is also quite different, influenced by the fact that this was historically one of the poorest parts of the country, but also by the fact that seafood is plentiful and that the wetter climate means that the ingredients available are also quite different.
Galicians have a great passion for food, and some of the best dishes and ingredients are celebrated in these wonderful annual events.
Feira do Cocido de Lalin
Held in the town of Lalin in February every year, this festival is the precursor to the carnival celebrations and pays tribute to the wonderful traditional stew known as cocido. Like many Galician dishes, there is an emphasis on using several different parts of the meat in the stew and not wasting anything, so here you will find that the broth of cabbage, chickpeas and potatoes is supplemented with pork sausage, pig's ears and tails. Along with the traditional reading of the proclamation of the Knights of the Stew, there is also a parade with a marching band, and a chance to try this interesting dish as a part of the event.
Festas de San Xoan
Although it is not strictly just a food festival, the night before the Feast of St John is another culinary event for the people across the region, and towns and villages will see people coming out to celebrate together.
Town and city squares will be home to bonfires that light up the night of June 24, and it is over these fires that people barbecue sardines and share them together. There will also be plenty of the wonderful and inexpensive red wine that has been produced in the region, while some of the brave young men also leap over the hot coals of the bonfire.
Festa do Pemento de Padron
The Padron pepper is one of the most famous ingredients that is produced in Galicia, and a side dish of these charred peppers is a tasty accompaniment to many restaurant meals that you will enjoy in the region. On the first Saturday in August the locals and visitors alike gather around the pans where thousands of these peppers are fried and served with coarse sea salt to all that attend the event in the village of Herbon. A parade of agricultural vehicles and awards are given out during the festival, which has now been running for over thirty five years and retains much of the rustic culture that draws people to the area.
Festa Do Marisco
The seafood fishing season is one of the biggest events in the Galician calendar, and in the coastal city of Vigo the opportunity to make the most of the abundant seafood on offer from their coastline is the reason for this wonderful festival. Held in September every year, the festival will see over forty different varieties of seafood go on sale, including crabs and mussels, all of which can be taken away to cook at home or cooked for you at the event. There are also displays of the traditional regional dances of Galicia and a range of arts and crafts stalls that make for a charming event.
Fiesta de la Empanada en Allariz
While empanadas in most of South America and in much of Spain are pastries with a stuffing, the Galician empanada is quite different and is prepared like a pie, with a variety of fillings cooked on top of a pastry pie case. Various meat, fish and vegetable fillings can be included, and this festival in Allariz celebrates the wonderful and unique approach taken to the empanada in Galicia. In order to really build up an appetite to eat one of the many varieties of empanada on offer during the festival, there is also a triathlon, or you can be a little more relaxed and enjoy some of the local music instead!