In Calella de Palafrugell and other Costa Brava ports, to warm up after a day’s fishing and keep the conversation going, fishermen used to drink the classic cremat made with Cuban rum brought from Spain’s colonies. Cremat is prepared by heating rum and sugar with a stick of cinnamon, lemon peel and coffee beans. Then it is flambéed until the flames burn off the alcohol. The best time to try it is during the traditional havaneres singing in Calella de Palafrugell in July.
In the old days, at night, by the sea, the sailors would sing songs about the loves they left behind in Havana, Cuba and drink this flaming beverage. Though the years have passed and Spain’s colonial empire diminished, the Cremat still lives on, as do the Havaneras, which are now a popular part of Catalan tradition.
Order Cremat at one of the little cafés or restaurants in Calella de Palafrugell and it will usually arrive at your table in a large clay bowl suffused in blue acohol flame. It’s then a waiting game as the Cremat should burn for 10 minutes or a little less before it is ready to drink. A small amount of rich dark freshly brewed coffee is poured into a cup and then the Cremat ladled carefully on top – it is very hot – breathe in the delicious fumes and then sip gently – perhaps I should say it is an acquired taste, but one which certainly warms the cockles when the Costa Brava wind hits the coast on a summer night.
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