It is important to know what foods you need to try when visiting a place, Barcelona is no different, and you although it is Spain, the cuisine is a more Mediterranean kind of dishes due to the proximity of the sea. I will show you around the Catalan cuisine and the 10 dishes that you cannot leave town without trying.
The Catalan cuisine is inside what is called Mediterranean cuisine, famous for its fresh products and simple garments, it uses olive oil to cook and to condiment as well as species such as pepper, parsley etc...
Catalans are known to eat bolets -wild mushrooms-, snails, and rabbit, and we love onion and garlic, those two ingredients can't be missed in the most famous Catalan savory dishes.
Pa amb tomàquet, it is probably the star dish as it is the most typical it is literally bread with tomato and this is what it is. Our sandwiches or when we eat bread with cured meats or cheese is rubbed with tomato with salt and olive oil. Ask for tomato bread, it is a must. They normally bring it to the table already prepared but there are some places where they bring you a bowl with tomatoes and garlic so you can do it yourself, it is very easy and you can do it at home.
Panellets: it is a typical sweet that can only be found around the 1st November in the bakeries, it is typical to eat at that time of the year.
Allioli: it is the star sauce in Catalan cuisine and it is done with only three ingredients garlic, an egg yolk, and olive oil. It is used to eat it with meat and even with bread alone, it has a garlic flavour and can't be missed in a grilled meat dish
- Romesco is the other star sauce in Catalonia that it is associated with one particular ingredient " the calçot". A calçot is a long white tender onion that is grilled and after peeled the black part due to the fire and then dipped into the romesco sauce. The romesco sauce is made with grilled red peppers or nyores and tomatoes, with toasted almonds and hazelnuts as the main ingredients. Calçotadas, which literally mean a gathering to eat calçots it is probably the most common gathering of the year for friends and family to meet and eat calçots. The Calçotadas start with a calçots dish dipped into the delicious romesco sauce and then the main dish is grilled meat with all i oli. If you are lucky enough to be in Catalonia around February/March you have to try the calçots.
- Cava: cava is the must alcoholic beverage that is present in every Catalan house, it is the brother of the French champagne, but it is cheaper and it is said to be better or more of the liking of everyone. It could be a good souvenir and it is typical from Catalonia, there are also cava sangrias to try out.
- Fideuà or Fideus a la cassola: the fideuà has similar ingredients as the paella, fish normally squid, prawns and clams and the "sofregit" as we call it with onion, tomato and olive oil but instead of using rice they use a thin pasta called fideu. The dish fideus a la cassola is a bit different, the main ingredient is the pasta called fideu but the ingredients change to meat, no fish in this one, instead of the squid and the clams, there are pork sausages and ribs. The picure on the header is a magnificent Fideuà!!
- Esqueixada: it is a salad made with curly endive, raw cod and romesco sauce on top. If you like the salty taste of the cod and the romesco sauce this is an incredible dish. It normally goes with black olives as well, the sweetness of the olive contrasts with the salty flavour of the cod.
- Embotit (cured meats): in Spain the Iberian ham is the star of every table and so it is in Catalonia, but only there is Iberian ham as cured meats, we have many different types and tastes. The typical ones are the fuet - a dry sausage- and the secallona - an even drier sausage and with more pepper taste-, as fresh meat the botifarra -sort of sausage- it is also a typical thing to try. You can see below fuet with tomato bread -pa amb tomàquet-.
- Mató: is a fresh cheese of Catalonia made from cows' or goats' milk, with no salt added. It is a dessert that is usually served with honey, and then it becomes a traditional and emblematic Catalan dessert known as mel i mató.
- Escudella: it is a typical Catalan soup made with vegetables, different kinds of meat (chicken, cansalada -a kind of bacon but thickest-, chorizo, black sausage etc..- and chick peas and a ham bone or meat bones as well. It is the typical main dish for Christmas but it is eaten as well during the cold months.
I haven't included the paella in my selection and you might be asking yourself why t is true that we eat paella due to the proximity to other regions where it is the star dish of their cuisine such as in València but it is not a typical Catalan dish. If you want to try the best paella in Barcelona check out our recommendations.
Another thing that is not in the list are the tapas, tapas are eaten everywhere in Spain and Barcelona is not an exception, but again are not the typical dish. I would recommend you though that you go for tapas if you are not familiar with them, it is a good way to discover new ingredients and to share dishes among the group. Our recommendation for the best bravas in Barcelona and the best tapas to try in Barcelona.
We can say now Bon profit! the Catalan expression to say Enjoy your meal!