The Rice Pudding Festival, Cabranes 2015

It’s that time of year again, the annual Arroz con Leche festival in Cabranes. On Friday the traditional umbrella was stuck up the tree in the main square to ward off bad weather for the duration of the festivities. A back-up marquee was also erected but they needn’t have bothered. The umbrella did its job tremendously well.

The traditional umbrella up a tree did its stuff under blue skies and blazing sunshine

The traditional umbrella up a tree did its stuff under blue skies and blazing sunshine

Friday night kicked the fiesta off with the giant parillada (meat-feast barbeque dinner) followed by dancing into the early hours. Saturday was a suitably more gentle day, with supervised children’s activities programmed between 10am and 4pm, giving delicate-headed parents the chance to recover slowly from the party. The Cabranes stage of the AsturCantabro mountain bike open set off from the village in the afternoon and the nighttime saw more music and dancing.

But Sunday, Sunday is the big day. The day when the judging of the annual rice pudding competition takes place. Now an annual rice pudding competition may seem like a strange concept but if you knew that rice pudding is the key signature local dish of this small area then you wouldn’t be so surprised. This unctuous, creamy rice, with a hint of cinnammon and a glug of anis liqueur is slow-cooked over a wood-fire and vigilantly stirred. Served cold, with a crunchy, blow-torched top it bears little resemblance to the Ambrosia rice of British childhoods.

 

My neighbour's entry in the Arroz con Leche competition

My neighbour’s fine entry in the Arroz con Leche competition

 

The streets are lined with stalls offering fare ranging from home-cooked tortilla and empanadas, to artesan soaps, handmade linens and organic cheeses. It is all set to the most marvellous soundtrack of live traditional Asturian music: a peculiarly Ibero-celtic mix of plaintiff pipes and flutes, stirring drums and clacking heels and castanets. The dancing exhibitions are spectacular. Check out this impressive performance from Sunday morning. Flamenco it ain’t, yet nor is it Riverdance.

And so the Rice Pudding Festival has ended for another year. But not to worry. Every village has their own fiesta and every weekend has a destination where you can experience traditional Asturian culture in full, surround sound and technicolour. Ye Asturies.

Comments

  1. That sounds great, my wife will now only eat rice pudding when visiting family in Teverga. Must remember this one for next year.

    • Haha! Good for her. And yes, the fiesta is definitely worth a visit. The standard of the music and dancing is always really high and there’s an ever-increasingly impressive selection of stalls with local produce, crafts etc.

  2. My friend Luis won this twenty years ago. I’ve never tried a better rice pudding since then!!

  3. Forgot to go this year, went to the market in Gardo instead. just adore arroz con leche – our neighbour makes the best ever!

    • Ah, my friend went to the market in Grado yesterday too. You may have seen her – she had 6 gorgeous 2 month old puppies to give away! Sounds like it was busy there too, as she managed to find homes for nearly all of them. :-)

  4. bavariansojourn says:

    That doesn’t look like the awful stuff we used to get at school, it looks amazing, what a great idea for a festival! :D

  5. Now this is a proper rice pudding. Looks delicious. I may have to try the umbrella trick when I plan a barbecue at home!

  6. Yum. Yum. Yum. It’s sounds wonderful and I’d be in heaven there – rice pudding is one of my favourites, if not favourite! X

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