The gastronomy of Lleida has its own personality when we talk about snails, grilled meat, cold cuts, "cassoles" (stews), "olles" (casseroles) and the newly-introduced fruit cuisine. Different restaurants offer menus of the season based on traditional products. However, they are used for cooking original recipes with new flavours and an exquisite presentation.
Wine and olive oil
The other two basic chareacteristics of the city's cuisine are wine and olive oil. These two products are both labelled by their own "Denominació d'Origen", which guarantee their quality and characteristics.
Concerning wine (D. O. Costers del Segre), the city of Lleida has the well-known Raïmat winery which produce first-rate white wines, red wines and sparkling wines, being either varieties or from coupages.
Olive oil (D.O. Les Garrigues) flavours all sorts of dishes of the city's cuisine and it is used as the basis for fried dishes and many specialities.
Vegetables from the Horta and meat
The Horta provides dishes whose main ingredient is poultry and other farm animals like chicken, rabbit, duck, quail, turkey and, above all, pork with vegetables and also green ones. Besides, lamb, kid and veal from the region or from the Pyrenees are usually eaten in Lleida. Moreover, during the months when hunting is allowed, this activity supplies cuisine with exceptional autumn and winter dishes introducing partridge, hare, wild boar, stag, buck or chamois.
Among all kinds of meat, pork is the most remarkable one because it plays an important role in the traditional cuisine, either to be grilled or eaten in cold cuts. We have to mention that the regions of Lleida head the breeding and raising of this animal.
When talking about autumn cuisine, we cannot forget the mushrooms from Lleida's regions. "Rovellons", "llanegues", "fredolics", "seps", "carreretes". an endless range of local mushrooms which, together with the vegetables of the season, make up assorted grilled dishes or are used as a garnish for many other recipes.
Sweets and Pastry
Coques de recapte (breadlike pancake) topped with "escalibada" (grilled green and red peppers and aubergines), tuna, herring, cod, llonganiça (long pork sausage) and "samfaina" (made with peppers, aubergines, onions and tomatoes); "panadons" (pies) with spinach, raisins and pine kernels, and peach muffins are the most typical dishes. Throughout the year cake shops also offer almond biscuits called "Granados" as a tribute to the well-known musician from Lleida.
In Lleida snail recipes have gone through a unique development which has turned the city into the capital of this gastropod. As a first course, snails can be cooked on a "llauna" (kind of tinned grill), and they are eaten with "allioli" (mayonnaise with garlic) or vinaigrette. But they are also cooked with "samfaina" (with vegetables), "a la brutesca" (cooked on a stone tile), "a la gormanta" (fried with flour, salt and pepper), "en cassoles" (stewed),. Aplec del Cargol is the popular event which consolidates Lleida as the capital of the snail cuisine.
In addition, local restaurateurs have given it a leading role in the most innovative cuisine. With fish, meat or fruit it is possible to try dishes of an unquestionable originality, flavour and quality.
The fruit cuisine
When summer heat comes, the fruit from Lleida ripens. Pears, peaches, nectarines, apples, plums and cherries are some examples of the sweet fruits that abound in these lands.
With Sant Miquel's trade fair, the arrival of autumn and the Setmanes Gastronómiques de la Fruita, fruit cuisine is at its zenith. During this gastronomic fair, which takes place at the end of September, more than twenty local restaurants offer, at a fixed price, their own original menus and all their dishes are made with fruit as the main ingredient or as a garnish.
Initiatives like the cooking contest for young people Àngel Moncusí, which is held every year in the Escola d'Hosteleria de Lleida, has helped the appearance of a generation of innovative and enterprising cooks. They are creative chefs that have given rise to what is the so-called young cooks' cuisine.