Monday, April 25, 2011

La Mona Is Not a Doll

La mona a cake? How absurd it sounded to me when I learned a cake called la mona, is dessert eaten on Easter Monday, and from what I have learned, a life time tradition in Catalonia. Yes, it is an Easter cake.

All my life I grew up hearing the word mona, and I knew that word meant a toy that I could play with. It was a toy I could dress and undress, remove all the pretty bows from a doll’s hair, and repaint fading red  lips with a marker. Yes, in my Mexican Spanish, mona was a toy to play with and not something to slice and eat. How did a word I have forever associated with a doll turn into cake here in Spain? The answer involves an Arabic word origin, munna, meaning “provision for the mouth.”

In Catalonia, this Easter cake is given to a godchild from the godfather. I had previously explained that godparents have a responsibility every Easter to give a palma or palmón to a godchild on Palm Sunday and this delicious cake on Easter Monday. This cake is made in other Spanish autonomous communities, such as Valencia and the Balearic Islands.

The cake is decorated with a yellow glaze or chocolate creme frosting, a thin filling in the middle, and toasted crushed almonds on the side. Colorful feathers and a large chocolate egg garnish the top. This tasty cake is a wonderful provision for the mouth for Catholics having observed Lent, but especially for a godchild.

But don’t let the traditional prerequisites of a Mona stop you from buying one at a pastry shop, it did not stop me. 

 Fins aviat!
A pastry shop in the Born area of Barcelona.
Typical mona Easter cake with the chicks, feathers, candied fruit, and chocolate eggs.
This is the one we ate, I did miss the chocolate egg.

1 comment:

  1. I was going to say, "Feathers on a cake?" until I remembered we have creme-filled chocolate eggs that allegedly come out of a bunny's butt. Yeah, these Easter traditions are weird no matter where you go.

    At least the cake has a tie-in to Lent (as opposed to a bunny laying chocolate eggs). A reward for hanging in with that Lenten promise? Woo hoo! I'm calling my nino to ask for mine. :o) Just kidding. I'm not a cake fan (seriously).

    Out of curiosity, what kind cake is within that parent's sugary nightmare? White? Yellow? Tres leches? And what kind of filling goes between the layers? Fruit? Custard?


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