Catalonia Wants to Nationalize Allioli

The town of Creixill wants to nationalize the Spanish sauce with its festival

Aioli lovers compete in Creixell's competition each year.

What is allioli? If you live in Catalonia, you likely have a different answer than the rest of the world. The true allioli, unlike the aïoli of Provence, according to the town of Creixell, is simply olive oil and garlic whipped until they are emulsified. Now, Creixell — the host of the yearly festival dedicated to allioli — wants to make it the national sauce of Catalonia. 

The 21st "festa de l'allioli" takes place this weekend, with competitions and collections of recipes. Even Ferran Adrià got in on the fun in the Creixell aioli-making competition, taking home the "gold mortar."

Beacuse of allioli's popularity, Creixell wants the government of Catalonia to claim it as the "national sauce." And the town is stringent about what it considers the real thing: anything thickened with potatoes or eggs (as in this Brussel sprouts with garlic aioli recipe) isn't the allioli. The town's "manifesto," according to a Valencian paper, says, "Our national conscience does not permit such an imposture." 

However, the true debate isn't about how the sauce is made — it's about who is responsible for its popularity. The city of Valencia, in the region of the same name, south of Catalonia, argues that one local company, Choví, is responsible for the sauce gaining worldwide attention. The manager of Choví told the Valencian newspaper Levante that it sells its allioli all over the world, even in Iran, China, and Iceland. However it's made — or whatever it's made with — we can't get enough of it.