Catalan Cuisine - a Guide
Barcelona - a city famous for its cultural diversity and many influences and in no place is this more noticeable than its cuisine. Heavily influenced by the neighboring Arabian area and its diverse geographical landscape the area is a melting pot of fresh vegetables and choice fish, poultry and game.
Catalan's have a growing reputation throughout Spain and the world and the area is quickly becoming renowned for creating the best chefs and greatest gastronomy in the nation (a name that's been traditionally held by the Basques and one that they are not likely to relinquish without a struggle ). Men such as Ferran Adria have helped to put Barcelona on the culinary map. He's widely considered the world's most innovative chef and his restaurant, El Bulli, two hours north of Barcelona, is considered as one of the worlds greatest - the 27 class"degustation" menu has attained cult status amongst foodies across the world.
Barcelona has a large choice of restaurants and eateries to suit all pockets and tastes and this report will provide you a rundown on some of the areas traditional fayre, such as"Mar Y Mantagna", a take on"Surf and Turf" which combines fish with some poultry or game at exactly the exact same meal. The proximity of the Mediterranean shore obviously provides the area with a great deal of seafood and the traditional fried fish dishes enjoyed in Andalusia can be found throughout the state. With over 500km of coastline in the area you can expect to have the ability to find fresh fish and shellfish of excellent quality throughout Catalonia and you may be certain that influences from throughout the Mediterranean can be seen in the region.
A lot of Catalan cuisine can be found in the preparation of sauces for fish and meat dishes; a firm favorite is"Romesco"; usually made with berries, almond, olive oil and garlic as well as the traditional garlic and oil established"Allioli" is also a well trusted formula at the city's kitchens and restaurants.
Simplicity is also embraced in Catalan cuisine and in no dish more than the beautiful"Pa amb tomaquet", a dish of bread rubbed with garlic, tomato and olive oil frequently extracted before a meal in restaurants and much lauded as a tasty substitute for bread and butter.
The center of Catalan cuisine still comes in the trio of components introduced into the area by the Romans. The trinity of bread, wine and oil has been used ever since in daily life. In Medieval times Arab influences were also to leave their mark on Catalonia and traditional Moorish mixtures of sweet and sour can still be seen today in favorite dishes like rabbit with pears and duck with fruit. Another regional speciality is"Bacalao" (what we would call salt-cod in English) - it is easily recognised in stalls and markets by its pungent odor and harks back to the pre-refrigeration times when maintaining and curing fish and meats were essential to survival. Today it is used in stews and salads and can be ready in many of ways and is a very versatile ingredient. Particularly excellent is"Esqueixada", a superb salad dish with shredded"Bacalao" that are available in pubs around the city.
With such a plethora of tastes on offer and the opportunity to eat in some of Spain's finest restaurants, visitors to the area are seldom disappointed in the cuisine that even prompted American restaurant critic and author, Coleman Andrews, to explain it as"Europe's last great culinary secret". The secret may well be outside today but that should not hinder your enjoyment of some exceptional food.