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Traditional communal meal distributes over 10k rations

To celebrate the end of carnival, the ‘Festes del Ranxo’ in western Catalonia prepares food to be shared by hundreds

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13 February 2018 01:42 PM

by

ACN | Barcelona

Catalonia has a strong connection to a sense of community to one’s town and neighborhoods. And while times may have changed, there are still festivals that keep this tradition alive. One of the most unusual and heartwarming is the ‘Festes del Ranxo’ communal meal, prepared on Shrove Tuesday.

This custom is typical in the west of the country, although it’s observed as far up as the north, like in the village of Vidreres by Girona. However, the most typical location is the village of Ponts, in the western inland of Catalonia. There, the organization responsible for cooking the huge meal foresees distributing between 10,000 and 12,000 rations, made with approximately 1,500 kg of products.

This celebration of carnival’s end is prepared with a collection made in the streets. At 6am this Tuesday morning, fires were lit, and scores of large pots were put on to boil. The result, ready around midday, was a type of traditional Catalan ‘escudella’  stew with chicken, potatoes, beans, and vegetables, served to neighbors and visitors for a huge, donation-based communal meal.

Something to indulge in

Historically, Carnival was a celebration of excess, in preparation for over a month of willing deprivation. The 'Festes del Ranxo' have in fact not been the only carnival festivities this year, which this year started on Thursday and peaked over the weekend. However, this theoretically leaves out those less fortunate, who may not have something to indulge in or to abstain from.

This is where ‘Ranxo’ comes in. The name is roughly translated to mean a peasant dish that can be prepared in large quantities, to be then distributed to many people. And while this may not be the most glamorous carnival celebration, it draws hundreds to share a hot meal – sometimes with those in need. And all you need is a bowl and a spoon. 

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  • A participant tending to the fire at the Festes del Ranxo in Ponts on February 13 2018 (by Albert Lijarcio)