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Food History

The Andorran national anthem: an early independence

Andorra is a postage stamp-sized country, only 12 by 17 miles, locked in the Pyrenees between France and Spain. With a total area of only 180 square miles, Andorra has little impact on the modern world, but it once had a vital role.

The tiny republic was established by Charlemagne, the great French ruler who stopped Muslim encroachment into Europe at the Battle of Tours in 732. He created Andorra as a buffer state between Christian France and (then) Muslim Spain. Their independence was also a reward. Five thousand tough mountaineers from the Pyrenees had joined Charlemagne in his fight to prevent an Islamic takeover of France. It was a close call. Tours is only 100 miles from Paris.

Even today, the Andorran government pays homage and a symbolic tribute to both France and Spain. They are self-governing but there are two co-princes. The King of France was one, the Bishop of Urgel the other. Since France now has no king, this honorary title devolves to the French President. Jacques Chirac is president of France and co-prince of Andorra. On the Spanish side, Bishop Sicilia of Urgel is the other co-prince.

Their national anthem reflects their national birth:


The Great Charlemagne, my Father,

Liberated me from the Saracens,

And from heaven he gave me life,

I was born a Princess, a maiden,

Neutral between two nations.&

Their national flag bears the same message, as a blue, yellow and red rectangle. The stripes on each end are from the French Tricolor divided by the yellow of Castilian Spain in the center. The official language is Catalan, a Spanish dialect.

In 1278, France and Spain recognized Andorran independence and established the co-prince system. Andorra agreed to pay an annual tribute to both sides. The bishop would receive &

four hams, 40 breads and a little wine.&

The French king would get two goats and two casks of wine. This was later amended. Co-Prince Chirac settled for a couple of casks of wine. He didn&

t need any rambunctious goats.

For centuries, Andorra was a land-locked Shangri-La, connected to the outside world only by mountain pack trails. The first road to Urgel was not built until 1914, the one to France in 1933. Electric power did not arrive until 1929.

A historical oddity is that Andorra declared war on Germany in 1914. When World War II started in l939, she did not have to declare war again. They had never signed the Treaty of Versailles, so technically they were still at war with the Germans.

During my three-year tour at Zaragoza, Spain, from 1977 to 1980, I took my family to Andorra several times. The diminutive country had taken advantage of its independence. Spain and France had strict regulations governing radio and TV broadcasting. They had none, so many radio and TV stations used Andorran sites. They were also a free port. Bargain hunters swarmed in from both their neighbors. Their elevation made skiing possible five months per year. Tourism became their No. — industry.

The snow-fed mountain streams also made trout farming profitable. Many years ago, this recipe used saffron instead of curry powder, but saffron is too expensive now.


— fresh trout cleaned and beheaded

— tablespoons melted butter

— teaspoon curry powder


Mix curry powder with butter, baste trout, place on grill. Baste two or three times while grilling, about five minutes per side, depending on size of trout.