One of the things I miss about Andorra is the Festa Mejor Major. We have nothing like that here in bucolic France.
Every hamlet, village, town and city in Spain and Andorra has their own Fest Major in the summer. Where we lived, Andorra/Catalonia, the celebration normally went on for 4 days. There were rides and games for the kids; food, parties and dances for the adults.
Our little village was no exception.
There was a dance in the village square every night starting at around 1:00 in the morning…
Yes, I said starting…. (The only thing we don’t miss is the reverberation of the bands echoing up the mountain until about 7:00 am, when the dance was over.) It wasn’t just for the young. The dances were filled with all ages, from toddlers with their parents to the grandparents.
The big event, though, was the Parade of Giants. Every village has it’s own Giant or pair of Giants (Ours was La Dame Blanche – the White Lady). The handlers and their Giants go from village to town for the parades, and, just maybe, a wee bit of partying. It takes around 20 people to handle a Giant (though only one carries it a time) and they all walk in the parade, tossing out firecrackers and candy; shouting, drinking, partying and generally having a good time.
That’s what made the Festa so special: Everyone seriously worked at having a good time… And succeeded!
The other thing that made our little Festa memorable was ‘The Chipper’.
Of all the fantastic food I have eaten all over Europe, I still think about that damn white van selling chips/pommes frites/French fries.
They were good. Seriously good. The best chips I have eaten, ever; before or since.
You could get them 4 ways: Plain; American (with ketchup); French (with mayonnaise); or Spanish (with allioli).
Real allioli. The kind that takes your breath away; keeps whoever is in the room with you awake all night; puts hair on your chest and knocks your socks off.
Real allioli, not the namby-pamby stuff you buy in jars. Real allioli is not garlic mayonnaise. It does not have lemon, vinegar or egg yolks. It has garlic, olive oil and a bit of sea salt; nothing more.
Real allioli is hot enough to bring tears to your eyes….tears of joy, maybe, but true tears nonetheless.
Real allioli is HOT, HOT, HOT; a little goes a long way. Real allioli is not for the faint of heart
Allioli is Spanish, in particular Catalan. The French aioli normally adds an egg yoke to the mix.
As to garlic ‘mayonnaise’, well, let’s not even go there. (Do you refer to ketchup as ‘salsa’?)
Lest you still think of this as mayonnaise, and are not properly understanding my words, let me assure you that one small teaspoon of this goes a long, long way to add an incredible flavor punch. Oh, and make sure the people you are living with/dating/whatever eat some too!
I originally posted this last summer, but thought it deserved a second look. At the vide grenier (boot sale, garage sale) last week I had some mediocre chips with bland garlic mayonnaise…. I got homesick for Catalonia, the Festa Mejor and proper allioli!
3 – 4 medium potatoes
1 tbs olive oil
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Slice potatoes in half the long way, then in half again. Then slice in half or thirds the short way. Put remaining ingredients into a large bowl and mix well. Add potatoes and toss, coating thoroughly. Put them into an old metal pie plate or cake tin or foil barbecue container (or whatever) that you will never use for any purpose but the barbecue again (you should have one of these). Cook on barbecue (grill) for 20 – 30 minutes or until done… you will need to stir them with a long-handled wooden spoon occasionally as they tend to develop ‘hot spots’ and can get a little crispy. When done remove potatoes and place on paper towel briefly to remove the excess oil.
The potatoes are great on their own or toss with allioli.
4 large cloves of garlic
1/4 tsp sea, kosher or other coarse salt
2 – 3 tbs olive oil
You have to do this with a mortar and pestle. The garlic has to be mashed. A blender or food processor will not work.
Have I made this crystal clear? If you do not use a mortar and pestle you will get a bland garlic mayonnaise. The pounding pulverizes the cells, releasing allicin which gives it the sharp, hot flavor.
Smack the garlic once with side of a knife to start breaking it down then put it in the mortar along with the salt. The texture of the salt helps break down the garlic. Pound with the pestle until you get a paste. Yes, this will take awhile. (It took 10 – 15 minutes for me to make this.) When you have a thick paste add the olive oil a few drops at a time and work into the garlic. Once the drops are incorporated, add a few more. Continue adding oil until it becomes difficult to incorporate then stop. If you add too much the sauce will break.
Taste it. In my mortar (shown in photo) I had about 2 1/2 tbs of allioli. I added 1 tbs of light mayo to half of it and used it as a condiment for a grilled pork tenderloin. The other half I tossed with the potatoes.
I don’t think the allioli will keep. I made it about an hour before using and it was starting to break. If you do have a bit leftover mix it with some mayo. It will be the best garlic mayonnaise you ever had 😉
I brushed my teeth and tongue twice before bed. The dogs left the room. It was good!
Now get out your mortar and pestle, you know it’s buried in there somewhere!
I was once told that more people die from bad mayonnaise in Spain in summer than from car accidents. Another good reason to stick with the Allioli!
Now, I wait to see what Nuría as to say to all this… ;-))