Until last night, diners at the Nova Font Blanca restaurant in the Catalan province of Lleida could choose from dishes that included “Slow-cooked hands of Constitutional Court prosecutors and judges,” as well as “grilled Andalusian civil guard.” The eye-catching names caused something of a stir on social networks, with far-right groups going so far as to issue death threats to the owner of the restaurant, Toni Punyet. Speaking on Wednesday to EL PAÍS, however, the chef said that the whole incident was a “misunderstanding.”
The dishes, he claimed, had “always been called that.” “A grilled civil guard is a grilled sardine,” he said. “It’s a typical Catalan culinary expression.” As for the second dish, Punyet explained that he thought it could be a “funny way” of naming the dish, which was on sale at the restaurant for €14.90 on Wednesday, pointing out that there is a recipe in Spanish cuisine, containing pigs trotters, called “manos de ministro,” or minister’s hands.
A grilled civil guard is a grilled sardine. It’s a typical Catalan culinary expression Chef Toni Punyet
Hostility toward central Spanish authorities such as the courts and the Civil Guard have been running particularly high among sections of the population in Catalonia in the last year or so, after, among other events, police violence against citizens during the unofficial referendum on independence on October 1 last year, and the jailing of a number of regional politicians ahead of their trials for their role in a unilateral declaration of independence that was passed through parliament.
The restaurateur told EL PAÍS that he had received “hundreds” of death threats via phone, email and the restaurant’s website, and which the regional police, the Mossos d’Esquadra, are now investigating.
“Everyone is welcome here,” said Punyet, who admitted the situation had “overwhelmed” him. “A lot of Spaniards come here and I’ve never had any problems.”
The chef ended up apologizing yesterday and said that he would change the names of the dishes to avoid offending anyone.
English version by Simon Hunter.