Tapas in Barcelona and Catalonia
Tapas in Barcelona is something you should put on your bucket list. Spanish tapas are world-famous and can range from simple to wonderfully complex. Originally they come from the south of Spain and people now cherish them all over the country. They are small portions of food made to snack on with a drink or to share with friends as a full meal.
In the beginning, una tapa was a bite-size slice of bread workers garnished with whatever leftover bits of food were at hand. So, as a farmer who works and eats outside, you would put your tapa on top of your afternoon glass of wine…ahem! water!.. to stop insects from falling into it. Hence, from these humble beginnings, a whole world of small dishes grew. And Catalonia was very much involved, which shows in tapas in Barcelona.
Famous tomato bread
There is one simple Catalan tapa which all Spaniards love and have done so for centuries. They call it pa amb tomàquet in Catalan or pan con tomate in Spanish. You lightly toast a slice of bread, rub fresh tomato with olive oil and sprinkle salt on top. Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, famous Catalan author and connoisseur of food said: this super simple dish is a meeting of cultures. He meant the culture of European wheat, American tomato, Mediterranean olive oil and Christian salt. All that…on a piece of bread!
What is more, tortilla de patatas, the signature Spanish omlette with eggs and potatoes is also popular in Catalonia. But do not have this lovely filling treat a la catalana if you are vegetarian! Here they come with sausages. Worry not however, traditional tortilla is served if you do not specify!
Go green in Barcelona
Better yet, looking around for tapas in Barcelona you can go green with pebrots de Padrón (pimientos de Padrón in Spanish). They’re small peppers of a bright leafy colour served fried in olive oil and sprinkled with thick sea salt. Originally from Galicia, they shouldn’t be underestimated- you can get a spicy one! Catalans say that brings good luck, but we suggest you wash it down with something refreshing such as tinto de verano. That’s a chilled red wine with bubbly lemonade, very popular in bars in Barcelona.
Botifarra, the traditional Catalan sausage comes in dozens of varieties. So, Barcelonians appreciate it in tortilla a la catalana as we know. They also grill it with white beans – that’s botifarra amb seques. Another mouthwatering treat for all of meat eaters out there is fuet. This dry cured, thin, salty sausage makes a frequent appearance as a tapa all around Catalonia. As it happens, Catalans are actually the biggest swine cultivators in the country. If you had tapas in Barcelona, you could probably tell! It takes skills and patience to make the finest produce. Take the famous jamón ibérico– thinly sliced, dark, soft ham. They cure this delicacy for up to two years!
Catalonia enjoys a wonderful Meditteranean climate so all vegetables here look sun- kissed and taste delicious. Hence, lovely tomatoes of a crimson red colour, soft and naturally sweet aubergines, cruchy onions…Put it all together with some freshly picked red peppers and you have an escaldiva. It’s a Catalan warm side dish of vegetables in extra virgin olive oil. If you’re here in spring an absolute must is calçots or baby leeks. No such tapas in Barcelona though! Here, locals barbecue these treats during traditional family open air parties. They refer to them as calçotadas and they use special stone charcoal barbecues. In addition, Catalonia also has a tradition of lovely slow- cooked vegetable stews. Locally source beans, carrots, onions and some freshly picked garlic… It makes for a satisfying meal, trusts us cyclists. So dig in and get all the nutrients and all the flavour.
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