Food and drink
The taste of tradition
Catalan cooking has lots of typical dishes that are still made and served in traditional restaurants today. Dishes that can be eaten in very traditional restaurants and even urban masies, old farmhouses that take you back to a bygone era.
Barcelona's basic cookery book consists of dishes such as the popular pa amb tomàquet, tomato bread, with or without ham; escalivada, a salad made from roasted peppers, aubergines and other vegetables, which is a real classic; and empedrat, another essential dish consisting of a salt cod and haricot bean salad. Or, if you want something more filling, you should go for escudella, a stew with vegetables, thick noodles and rice, boiled with haricot beans and meat.
Pork is our favourite meat. There are more than 15 kinds of sausage but the best known is botifarra, the main ingredient of botifarra amb mongetes, pork sausage and beans.
As for sweets and desserts, crema catalana is famous, as are panellets, little cakes made with crushed almonds, pine nuts, desiccated coconut and cocoa powder that are especially popular in November.
There are lots of restaurants where you can try these traditional dishes. Good examples of this kind of cooking are Ca l’Isidre, which opened in 1970, and Casa Leopoldo, which opened in 1929. You can try out both in the Raval neighbourhood.
Another good place to try traditional cuisine is in an old masia, a type of rural building typical in Catalonia that has been turned into a restaurant. In Barcelona there are some spectacular ones with over a thousand years of history, such as Can Cortada and Can Travi Nou, both of which are in the Horta-Guinardó district.
Deeply rooted recipes...
Pa amb tomàquet
On Catalan dining tables, bread is usually served in large, toasted slices rubbed with ripe tomatoes and drizzled with olive oil. Nothing could be more homely.
Mar i muntanya
As we are surrounded by a natural environment (sea and mountains) that provides meat and fish, chefs have combined both on the hob for centuries. Mandonguilles amb sípia (cuttlefish meatballs) are a good example.
This is the most popular of all Catalan sauces. It is made from oil and garlic, as its name (all i oli) clearly suggests, accompanies anything from tomato bread to lots of different kinds of meat and adds the final touch to dishes such as black rice and cuttlefish.
A la llauna
A really typical Barcelona culinary technique is the one known as “a la llauna” and traditionally used with salt cod. It means cooking on a tin plate in the oven.