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Max Abroad : The Best of Spain

Quite simply writing about the best things Spain has to offer and anything that might crop up along the way. Spain is a lot more than just sun, sand and sea...

The sweetest night in Barcelona
23 June 2015 @ 15:25

The night of June 23 is magical around the world. For centuries, different cultures have celebrated the Summer Solstice (between June 20 and 22), the shortest night and longest day. With the expansion of Christianity, the religion took this pagan holiday and associated it with Saint John whose day is celebrated on June 24. Ever since, this night is called Saint John's night, though the bonfires and dances around them lived on, marking the change of seasons.

 


In Catalonia, the revelry is also accompanied by candy, the coca and a flute of cava. This cake is made with a sweet fermented bread dough and is decorated with pine nuts and/or candied fruit. There is also the coca de llardons and cocas that are filled with cream or cabell d'àngel, a pumpkin jam. There are also savory varieties that are similar to Italian pizza recipes. 
 
Its origin is unclear. According to the Pastry Chef's Guild of Barcelona and Provincia, its preparation is documented in Roman times when this round cake (which is now rectangular) was served with a hole in the center to commemorate the solstice. Another theory discusses the fruits that decorate them, which may imply a wish to consume products from the summer garden. Christianity commissioned their preparation to the brothers of Saint John who then sold them to raise funds. Later on, pastry chefs and bakers began preparing them, which has led to their current popularization. And we don't really know the origin of its name nor why its name changed from torta, as Joan Amades calls it in the book Costumari catalán, to coca. Etymologically, this term may come from Central European languages, as torta is kuk in Dutch, cake in English and küchen in German.

We can find them in most bakeries in Catalonia, but on June 23 many restaurants conclude dinners with coca and cava. 



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