The surrealist artist Salvador Dalí claimed that the railway centre at Perpinyà (Perpignan in French) was the centre of the world and his statement is now commemorated in Catalan, the language of his native Catalunya which stretches across the Pyrenees, from one side of the Spanish-French border to the other.
This is where I’ve been for a couple of days, to meet friends and listen to music on one of the jeudis de Perpignan when the streets of the old town are filled with theatre, music and café tables. For Lo Jardinièr and me it was a long-delayed chance to explore this colourful Catalan town. Although I took no photos of food at all (my camera being too busy with street theatre and buildings most of the time) we did eat some excellent lunches.
In the bistro-style Casa Sansa we ate aumonières – paper thin pastry wrapped around goats’ cheese, baked with honey until the cheese was melting and then served on a bed of salad leaves, followed by three pieces of meat – pork, veal and steak – cooked quickly on a very hot plancha and served with frites. Dessert, of course, was crema catalana, the Catalan version of crème brulée. No wonder visitor say, in Catalan ‘Perpinya t’estimo’
or, since this is a bilingual country, ‘Perpignan je t’aime’, as the glass on the other side of the bar proclaimed. And the colours of Catalunya were everywhere, even reflected in the marble café tables.
And today, just before we went back to the ‘centre of the world’ to catch our train home, we had another delicious lunch in Le Divil – the 13€ menu du jour offered scallop terrine, ducks’ hearts grilled on a wood fire with deep fried cubes of potato dusted with paprika, and then gateau basque – a slice of delicious light creamy cake.
Over the weekend I’ll get back to posting dishes that we’ve cooked ourselves at home, but I wanted to record and share our Catalan experience.