Thursday, 21 February 2013
What is ‘Xató’ and ‘xatonada popular’? - or: Penedès This Weekend!
If you come to Penedès during the coming weekend February 22-24, you will have the last opportunity for this season to take part in a ‘xatonada popular’. The ‘xatonada’ season starts in November every year – usually in Vilanova i la Geltrú -, and will now be rounded off in two parallel events, in Calafall and Cubelles.
But what is the ‘xató’, this Penedès salad which you eat at a ‘xatonada’? Well, in reality ‘xató’ refers to the dressing, which is so characteristic for this dish that almost all towns in Penedès claim to have the most original and historical recipe. This sauce is always based on breadcrumbs, vinegar, garlic and a Catalan pepper called nyora, but usually also contains hazelnuts and almonds. And then you can anchovies to it – to get a saltier taste -, but then you are most likely from Sitges. Or you can fry the garlic before you crush it – to get a softer taste -, but then you must be from El Vendrell. Or leave out the hazelnuts and almonds, if you have an allergy or if you are from Vilafranca del Penedès… ;)
What everybody then agrees to is that you should serve this sauce on top of a salad consisting of escarole endives, salted cod (bacallà), tuna fish and anchovies, decorated with small, round olives (aberquines) and add a big slice of omelette (truita) if you want a more complete meal.
At a ‘xatonada’ you will have the opportunity to see observe how people prepare this dish – usually in competitions – but also to buy a portion of it and enjoy it with the other visitors.over a glass of Penedès wine.
Now, Penedès has a lot to offer also for those of you who are not interested in this culinary specialty. Full event recommendations in English for this week - covering sports, music, guided tours etc. -, can be found here.