Have you ever eaten snails? We reckon is not a very popular delicacy in some countries like Britain, for example, but here in Catalonia are quite highly prized. It is so that we have a very popular Snail Festival where 12 tonnes of snails are consumed in 3 days. This is the result of Aplec del Caragol, a food festival where the main star is the snail. The setting: Lleida, the westernmost province capital of Catalonia, home of the Snail cuisine and main city of the farming region. The dates: from May 20th to May 22nd.
Basically, the Festival consists in cooking and eating snails for three days. These peculiar stars of the celebration come from other parts of Spain and the North of Africa and South America. There are different ways to cook them, but the typical recipe from Lleida and the most common in the Festival is the simplest: snails seasoned only with salt and pepper and cooked in a tin pan. As snails warm up on the fire, they let loose their slime, which also helps on the cooking. This recipe is called Snails on Tin (Caragols a la Llauna). Tonnes of snails are cooked in large tin pans and consumed in long tables set outdoors by locals and visitors. The only cutlery needed is a toothpick to pull the snails out of the shell and dip them into Allioli sauce, to your liking.
Aplec del Caragol (The Snail Meeting) is the most popular and mass Festival in Lleida. People from the city and from all other towns of the province gather for a weekend around the Snail celebration and mingle with snail lovers from all parts of the country: more than 200.000 people take part in this big Snail feast! The organization of the Festival is carried out by an association made up of more than one hundred social clubs whose main event is the Festival itself and who cook and eat snails, but also show themselves in parades and street activities. Because the Festival is not only about snails. There are loads of other festive and traditional activities like street performances, charanga music, outdoor evening celebrations, exhibitions of dances and human towers and entertaining competitions.
Home of the Snails, but also heart of the agricultural and farming industry in Catalonia, Lleida is a city of traditions. It is connected with Barcelona by high-speed train and the trip takes one hour approximately. The Segre river crosses the city and the river banks make nice parks for walking and enjoying the nature. Lleida’s main cultural interest is the Cathedral (Seu Vella), placed on top of a hill, with views to the plains and a magnificent and beautiful gothic cloister.
Well then, save the date (May 20 to 22) and take a one-day trip to Lleida on the weekend where the city is at its most splendorous and festive time and enjoy eating lots and lots of snails cooked as traditionally.
Learn all about the Snail Festival in Aplec del Caragol website.