The Wonderful World of European CookeryPart 27: ANDORRA
Situated between two of the great cuisines of the world, French and Spanish, and overlaid with mysterious Basque elements, Andorran cooking is not quite like anything else in the world, and is deservedly little known. The major dish of the region is the magnificently odorous cabreria (casserole of goat), but there are many other distinctive recipes such as rack of goat, goat Kiev, goatschnitzel and supreme de leftover de goat.
The traditional day for cooking goat (one of the favourite animals in Andorra), is Wednesday, and throughout the republic’s 175 square miles the scent of basting, roasting and stewing spreads until it overflows into nearby France and Spain, often not reaching Barcelona until Friday.
Goat can also be spread out on the hillsides (of which there is an ample supply) to be dried in strips; as this is a time-consuming business it is more normal now to import chamois leather cloths and marinate them. It is less common to find goat used as the basis for puddings, though there is an interesting goat syllabub.
The Moors in their progress through this part of the Pyrenees left behind some traces of their influence, and there is a wonderful goat dish cooked on skewers (cabra en brocheta), which is descended from the kebab family. More important, the Moors also left behind two extremely large cooking pots which are used to this day in the feasts on the great national days: Goat Saturday and Kid Monday.
Pyrenean cookery generally makes great use of mountain herbs, wild flowers and colourful blooms, and Andorran cookery is no exception. Goat and cyclamen soup is not only unusually tasty but also very pretty; on celebratory occasions, it is also quite common to serve a whole goat’s head with a small rock garden in its open mouth and dwarf irises (Iris reticulata) in its ears.
Regrettably, Andorran cuisine has been affected by the world of modern catering, and it is not uncommon to find goat and chips or goatburger on offer in the main restaurants, but a word or two with the waiter should suffice to secure a traditional dish on your table. It is all the better if washed down with a draught of local Andorran wine – red, purple, or black.
Smuggling has always been one of the main industries in this part of the world, and that, too, has had its effect on the peculiar nature of Andorran cuisine. Food, for a smuggler, must be taken on the run, and what better than a tasty piece of pressed goat, cabra laminada, or goat and egg pie? Smugglers’ satchels are invariably made from goatskin and in times of emergency it is not unknown to eat them as well, though they are probably an acquired taste.
Readers who wish to experiment with Andorran cookery may, if they wish, substitute some other meat for goat, and use an ordinary recipe already well-known to them.
Although numbered 27, this is in fact part 1 of our series “The Wonderful World of European Cookery”; but other better known countries have been dealt with in better known magazines. Our magnificent colour photograph of Andorran goats being chased by Andorran chefs is available on request – Next week: Lichtenstein.