“Owls, barn owls, toads and witches...”
I often get weird looks when I explain to my friends the odd traditions we have in Galicia, Spain. I could go on about how we have festivals dedicated to food across the year, including the potato festival, bread festival and the yearly competition on who can make the largest Spanish omelette.
However, close to Christmas, my family and I make a reservation at the local Galician Club in London and enjoy a Queimada. Rooted in Celtic tradition, the flaming Queimada drink of Galicia believed to ward off evil spirits...and it is so delicious!
The process is quite impressive also, often accompanied by passionate drumming and eerily loud bagpipes, the performer will prepare the fire drink in a hollowed-out pumpkin or a cauldron-like ceramic pot. You combine highly flammable ingredients such as Lemon, Brandy and Coffee beans to create a hypnotic blue flame irising from the cauldron. The performer dramatically ladles the flaming mixture high into the air as they chant the magical spell. Once the performance is complete, they pour the drink into small terracotta mugs to then consume. The myths and legends behind the Queimada now seem very odd, but it is this tradition that reminds me of the weird and wonderful stories told to me when I was little.