Cakes, ‘flaons’, ‘coquetas’, ‘carquinyols’, breads and pastries… Els Ports is a land where gastronomy has had, has and will have an unparalleled importance. In any visit to the localities of the region you cannot miss a stop at the bakeries and pastry shops to taste the typical sweets of the area made with local and seasonal products. A practice that goes back centuries.
For lovers of gastronomy and history, Els Ports has an obligatory stop: Forcall. Here we find what is the oldest working oven in Europe. It is an oven built in 1246, with a marked Gothic style. Since it was erected, it has never stopped working to offer the best breads and sweets. The Forn de la Vila, as it is known, was restored in 1993, when a commemorative plaque with the inscription “Forn de la Vila, 1246-1993” was placed on the stone.
The visit is impressive, as the Forn de la Vila still maintains the original structure of the primitive medieval oven. Inside, there are two old communal wood-fired ovens used for centuries by the inhabitants of Forcall to bake their delicacies. Nowadays, only one of the two wood-fired ovens is used, and that is during the celebrations of Sant Antoni de Forcall, the ‘Santantonà’, declared a Festivity of Tourist Interest in the Autonomous Community and an Asset of Cultural Interest. Every January, the village gathers in this unique space to make the ‘coquetas’ and ‘rotlletas’ that will be distributed during the festival.
Forcall has the oldest working oven, but it is not the only oven with history to be found in the region. Olocau del Rey and Vilafranca have two other medieval ovens of great cultural value in their historic centres.
The Olocau del Rey oven was erected in 1272 and consists of a small room with three Romanesque arches, located at the back of the Brotherhood. It is believed that it was once part of a larger building and was not only used as an oven. Today, this 13th century oven is no longer in use, but it can be visited to learn about the past and the history of the ancient inhabitants of the municipality.
After Forcall and Olocau del Rey we travel to Vilafranca, where we find the third preserved medieval oven in Els Ports. Dating from the 13th century, the Gothic oven of Vilafranca is part of what is known as ‘conquest’ architecture. Over the years, it has had a wide range of properties and uses, both private and communal. Thus, it has been owned by feudal lords, nobility, the municipality itself and private entities. At present, the Oven has been converted into a restaurant, so that you can enjoy great delicacies from inside a medieval building.
These three historical spaces, preserved over the centuries, are emblematic of the past of Els Ports. A past that has come down to the present day, in today’s bakeries and pastry shops, with the different sweets that are baked and cooked every day. The purest tradition with ‘flaons’ or ‘carquinyols’ and new elaborations such as mousses or tartlets intermingle to offer visitors a unique gastronomic experience that is hard to forget.