Text: CUINA MAGAZINE Photo: Anna Garcia Frigola
Last stop before Lent
In Catalonia, meringue is associated with the carnival winter festivities
A dessert made from whipped egg whites and sugar, often with an acidic ingredient like lemon added, meringue is baked to form a light, airy and sweet confectionery with a crisp outer layer. Historically associated with Swiss, French, Polish and Italian cuisines in particular, in Catalonia meringue is mostly linked with the Garraf coastal region south of Barcelona. This is an area of the country that has a strong carnival heritage and meringue is a food often associated with the annual winter festivities, traditionally being consumed on Dijous Gras (Fat Thursday), which in the Christian tradition is the last Thursday before Lent, when a protracted period of fasting begins until Easter.
There is a theory that the popularity of meringue in Catalonia could at least in part derive from households taking advantage of egg whites left over from the preparation of the traditional crème brûlée-like dessert, crema catalana, which was particularly popular in the first months of the year.
Today, meringue has been fully incorporated into the world of sweets, both as a filling and as an embellishment and complement in cake making.
As it has a tendency to readily absorb water from the air, meringue has a short shelf life of up to two weeks if stored properly. In order to prevent the dessert from being ruined, it is advisable to store meringue in an airtight container and in a cool area of the house. To extend the shelf life of the dessert further, it can be frozen and kept for about three months, although even then it should still be kept in an airtight container to prevent any humidity affecting it.