Published on February 9th, 2015 | by mundohr0
“Both Estrella Galicia and the Cocido from Lalín are “Galician Brands”: Ignacio Rivera’s opening speech
On Sunday our CEO, Ignacio Rivera, gave the opening speech of one of the most important gastronomical events in Galicia, the 47th Feria del Cocido de Lalín. The intense cold in the Deza capital didn’t prevent over 60,000 people from enjoying this typical winter dish at a festivity that was inaugurated by Ignacio Rivera, who highlighted the numerous similarities between the cocido and our beer Estrella Galicia, as well as the importance of both as “Galician Brands”. Below, you can read the full speech by Ignacio Rivera.
COCIDO and BEER – by Ignacio Rivera
Hello to you all and thank you for allowing me to enjoy this great day with you, a new edition of the “feira do cocido”, right here where the senses come to life: these wonderful lands of Lalín, at the centre of this beloved region of Deza.
When they told me that I would be giving the opening speech, I asked myself, although not too much, just in case, what I had done to deserve this important task. I accepted it as a great honour and I sincerely hope not to let anyone down.
Under pressure due to the responsibility of such a task (I have to admit that this is my first opening speech of this type), I started searching for all the information I could about the subject, of which there is plenty and varied. I found, for example, poetical references ranging from the XII century to the present. Odes that praised the many virtues of this simple dish that brings our senses to life.
The love of the cocido is therefore passionate and timeless.
I also had the opportunity to re-read the speeches made at the openings of previous editions, all by great writers. I then discovered magnificent and impeccable prose describing the cocido, about the tasty morsels and the experiences provided by each and every ingredient which, in turn, were described exquisitely. I then asked myself how on earth I could achieve that standard.
I turned my search to more humorous quotes, such as one, for example, which referred to why the cocido is a winter dish. According to the author, it is because in summer it would be impossible to swim in the sea due to the length of time needed to digest it all. Other more familiar references refer to its qualities as a Sunday morning tonic to recover from those possible Saturday night excesses, and how its effect could even last the whole week.
I continued researching the “Feira” and I was surprised to learn about the numerous acts, celebrations and activities that are held around this great festivity. This important event to praise this very Galician culinary example, which has reached an important level of maturity thanks to you all. To all this information I gathered, I must add my own memories of family gatherings, of the columns of steam emerging from pots and dishes that announced the great feast that would comfort in the cold weather all those present, which due to its amount and variety had something that would please everyone, whatever the age.
All this has led me during these days to think about the concept of cocido. I’ve thought about what each one of us understands, or feels, when thinking about this dish that we have gathered here today to pay homage to.
After this careful analysis, and given the high standard set by my predecessors, I thought I would tell you about the only thing I know about, and what I have grown up around, i.e., the world of beer, and to consider the relationship between this traditional drink and the cocido. I think we can agree that the cocido is a dish to share, to enjoy in company, just like a good beer.
Firstly, while reviewing the history of Lalín, I found a very clear sign of the link between Estrella Galicia and this beautiful town, as it’s here that one of Lalín’s most famous sons, Ramon Maria Aller, built the first astronomical observatory in Galicia, precisely to be able to see the stars. I don’t know if at that stage he would have been able to see ours as at that time it was very, very small, although it was already trying hard to shine.
Also, what is beer if not a brew of malt, hops and yeast that, by following a careful combination of timings and temperatures, guarantees an exquisite end product? Here, you use turnip tops, chickpeas, pig’s head (“cachola”), potatoes and pork shoulder (“lacón”). When we join these two end products, we obtain something that makes us feel proud of our land.
Beer, like cocido, belongs to the people. In every region, in each country, we can find a version of the cocido. In Spain, on a regional level, cocidos from Galicia, Madrid (the “madrileño”), from León (the “maragato”), or from Cantabria (the “montañés”), and on an international level, there is the feijoada from Brazil. The same thing happens with beer, each country has its beers. So, if there is a country that has neither beer nor cocido, it can’t be called a country and it’s better not to go there.
Another similarity between our beloved products is related to economy. In brewing companies and those in the mass production sector, there is always a search for economies of scale, with the minimum wastage during the production process. Exactly the same as in the cocido in Lalín, where everything is made use of.
We also coincide in our dependency on harvests to make our products. Luckily, here in our beloved Galicia, it’s easy for us. If there is something that we can boast about in Galicia, it’s the top quality of our products. This wealth is something that we must be proud of and, evidently, something we have known how to take care of throughout many generations. It’s important that we maintain this stamp of quality which becomes a key competitive advantage, and we must tell the world about. The cocido of Lalín has the best ingredients, plenty of care during the cooking process, and the excitement of conquering the world from Galicia. I must admit that at Estrella Galicia we have copied the recipe that has been handed down from fathers to sons, through five generations. Both beer and cocido are simple and affordable, beer is not champagne, nor is cocido caviar. They should be so lucky!
Another similarity is the moment they are consumed. They both allow us to gather round the table, with friends and family, to share special moments. We meet up to have a beer, and also for a cocido which, curiously, is one of those few meals that is an event in itself. We meet up and plan to get together, if possible in Lalín, “for the cocido”, which we can state with certainty is a rite in itself, internalised as part of our culture and way of being, because the cocido is a feast and today we have gathered here to celebrate it.
At Estrella Galicia when we speak about what’s ours, about Galicia, of what we have close to us, we use the expression, “o noso e o noso” (“what’s ours is ours”), a saying that gains a deeper meaning today. At least because, as far as I know, there is nothing more “ours” than the cocido which, what’s more, should be in the dictionary as a synonym of Lalín.
We also share brand. Both Estrella Galicia and the Cocido from Lalín are Galician Brands which are deeply set in my DNA. The cocido from Lalín is a unique tourist attraction which brings thousands of people to our land and which generates image and wealth for our environment. It is an essential engine for the economy and that, between us all, we must promote and encourage.
I am Galician and have always been very proud to say so. Galicia possesses extraordinary assets, which we must take care of, nourish and build up, in order to turn them into advantages that allow us to compete in an ever more demanding world. The Lalín Feria del Cocido is a brand of renowned prestige and without doubt deserves to be internationally recognised.
If we continue to take care of our products, of our origins and our traditions, success is guaranteed. This responsibility belongs to us all, and that way will all share in the celebrations for everything achieved.
Thank you all very much. Long live Galicia, Long live Lalín and Long live the cocido.
This post is also available in: Spanish