The medieval village of Pals stands on a hill just a few kilometers from the Mediterranean Sea. The surrounding plains were once marshland and make the perfect environment for growing rice. We ended our e-bike ride through medieval villages at a mill and the rice fields of Pals.
Rice cultivation in the plains around Pals dates back to 1452 when permission was granted to construct a rice mill and irrigation canals. And some of the festivities tied to the traditional planting and harvesting methods still exist today.
As we arrived at the mill, we were greeted by curious – and hungry – goats! (Tim and I are always suckers for cute goats. We probably have more pictures of goats in various countries than any other animal.) We were each given little bouquets of rice from the fields and I quickly made several new friends by sharing my rice with the goats. They’ll even do tricks for a treat, as I learned when I was practically knocked down by a goat that stood up on just her hind legs to try to reach the rice in my hand while I wasn’t looking.
I was surprised to learn that brown rice and white rice come from the same plant. Depending on how many layers are shucked away from the outside of the grain, you get brown or white rice. We were given a demonstration of this process with some of the old, traditional machines.
All of that e-biking had made us hungry, what could be more appropriate for lunch after some rice harvesting than the traditional Catalonian dish arròs negre? Ah, this is why we were discouraged from ordering the arròs negre at Taverna Can Bernat de L’Estartit the day before. We had a very special meal waiting for us, privately catered by Restaurant La Vila and served on the second floor of the Town Hall, where a breeze was blowing through the open windows and we had sweeping views as far as the eye could see.
Why the private party? Because we were all about to make asses of ourselves! In Catalonia, there is a very special wine decantor called a porró. It reminds me a bit of a clear glass watering can and the object is to tip the porró just so while tilting your head back and drinking the wine straight from it. The Mayor of Pals showed us (schooled us?) just how it is done and we all clapped in delight as he didn’t get a single drop of the red wine on him. And then it was each our turn…Everyone did quite well and no one had to go about the rest of the day with a red wine stained shirt.
Know Before You Go
- Restaurant La Vila is located at Carrer Abeurador, 18 in Pals
- There are many cute shops along Pals’ main street. Look for Catalonian pottery handmade in the area, handmade chocolate bars in a variety of flavors (the cappuccino dark chocolate was incredible), and straw baskets.
- Visit the rice fields of Pals on the Ruta da la Plana with Roda d’Or
Thank you to the Costa Brava Girona Tourism Board for hosting me, Restaurant La Vila for the amazing lunch (and providing the first salad I’d had in 10 days in Spain!), and to the Mayor of Pals for taking time to join us for lunch. As always, all opinions are my own.