11 Catalan Foods You Must Try When Visiting Barcelona!
Want to try traditional Catalan food? Then forget about paella and tapas, and see below our list of the most authentic Catalan dishes.
1. Pa amb tomaquet (Tomato bread)
A true symbol of Catalan cuisine, this bread is served in most restaurants in Barcelona and all across Catalonia. Toasted bread with a special kind of tomato (tomaquet de penjar) which you rub the bread with, add olive oil, a bit of salt, and sometimes garlic (garlic is usually skipped in Barcelona but is a must in the countryside). Simple but great apéritif.
Dry cured pork sausage. Fuet literally means “whip” in Catalan, which probably represents it’s long thin shape. Typically served as a snack or apéritif, sometimes as part of torrades – toasted tomato bread sandwiches.
This sausage is another very typical and common Catalan food. The regular one is just plain pork sausage, which is charcoal-grilled and typically consumed with mongetes (white beans). But there’s also botifarra negra (blood sausage), botifarra d’ou (egg sausage), botifarra with mushrooms, botifarra with duck foie, and even botifarra dolça – sweet botifarra.
This type of pasta came to Catalonia few centuries ago from Italy and became one of the favorite local meals. Big pasta tubes are stuffed with meat, chicken, spinach or mushrooms, and baked with creamy bechamel sauce and cheese. Canelons are considered to be one of the traditional Christmas meals in Catalonia.
The most famous vegetarian Catalan recipe. Escalivada consists of charcoal-baked or oven-baked aubergines, red peppers, tomatoes and onions, served peeled with a bit of olive oil. Sometimes escalivada is served with salty anchovies or botifarra negra.
6. Mar i muntanya (“Surf’n’turf”)
An idea of mixing fish and seafood with meat and vegetables in the same dish is very popular in Catalan food. There are plenty of recipes based on that concept. The most famous is, probably, paella mar i muntanya (or arròs de mar i muntanya) – rice dish which can include squid, shrimps, pork sausage, pork ribs and vegetables at the same time.
Another example which may be found in many Barcelona restaurants is mandoguilles amb sipia – meatballs with pieces of cuttlefish cooked in vegetable sauce.
Salt cod has been a basic popular food all across the Mediterranean since centuries ago, when drying salted cod fish was the only known preservation method. After desalinating by soaking in water for a day or two, cod fish can be baked (bacallà a la llauna), or used as the ingredient for a variety of traditional salads (esqueixada, xató, empedrat).
Basically, same thing as paella, but with noodles instead of rice. Fideuà is typically a seafood meal which includes squid or cuttlefish, prawns and various types of shellfish, but mar-i-muntanya version of it is also quite popular. When you order fideuà, always ask for allioli sauce to mix it with.
Catalan classic winter specialty. Calçot is a kind of a giant spring onion which is cooked on barbecue grill and consumed as a starter, followed by a selection of grilled meats and sausages, washed down with red wine. Trying calçotada is a must if you’re visiting Catalonia between January and March.
10. Cargols a la llauna
Snails baked in oven or on charcoal grill on a metal tray called llauna, with salt and spices. Snails are a typical food in Catalan province of Lleida, but many restaurants in Barcelona serve them too. If you’re looking for something very local and authentic – ask for cargols a la llauna!
11. Crema Catalana
The most popular Catalan dessert, a local version of Crème brûlée (burned cream). A rich custard base topped with hardened caramelized sugar. Crema Catalana can be found in most restaurants all across Catalonia, but every place has its own secret of cooking it!