Typical Catalan Dishes

If one visits Barcelona without trying typical dishes of the Catalan region, one's visit will not be complete. People usually remember a place by what they eat in that place. Eating is one of the pleasures of life and trying different foods is one of the main reasons for travel. Here are a few suggestions:

A. Salads:

1. Escalivada - This is a salad of grilled vegetables that contains eggplant, red pepper, tomatoes, sweet onions, salt, olive oil and wine vinegar. Notice the optional seasoning of minced garlic.

2. Esqueixada - This is a salad that contains raw salted cod (which has been desalted previously in water) with tomatoes, onions, peppers, olive oil and wine vinegar. It may also have hard boiled egg. Notice the optional seasoning of minced garlic.

3. Empedrat - This is a salad that contains haricot beans with tomatoes, onions, olive oil and wine vinegar.

4. Mushrooms ("bolets")

B. Rice:

1. Arròs negre - This is black rice that contains squid and its ink. It may be served with alioli sauce, which is made from garlic and olive oil.

2. Rice "a banda"

C. Second Dishes:

1. Suquet de peix - Potato fish soup.

2. Sarsuela - Different types of fish with sauce.

3. Codfish "a la llauna".

4. Codfish with "sanfaina".

5. Chicken with prawns.

6. Veal with mushrooms.

7. Conill amb cargols - Rabbit with snails and the specific sauces or garnishes.

8. Snails "a la llauna".

9. Chicken with raisins and pinenuts.

10. Fideuà (shorts spaghettis) "a la cassola" . This dish is similar to paella, but instead of rice it uses small and thin noodles. It may include a combination of shellfish, meat, chicken, and vegetables. It is cooked in a large flat pan, just like paella.

11. Duck with pears ("ànec amb peres").

12. Botifarra amb mongetes (Catalan sausage with haricot beans).

13. Coca (Catalan flat bread) with escalivada.

14. Spinach with raisins and pinenuts.

15. Canelons - stuffed pasta tubes, what Italians call "cannelloni" but with a characteristic stuffing of Catalan stew ("escudella")

16. Escudella amb carn d'olla - This is the most traditional Catalan stew. It is made with meats and vegetables cooked together. First you have the liquid with pasta as soup, later the solid ingredients as main dish. Vegetables include at least chickpeas, potatoes, and green cabbage, amb may also include celery (leaf and stalk), carrot, parsnip, turnip, leek, and onion. Meats include a characteristic sort of big meatballs called "pilota" and may also include pieces of meat Catalan sausage ("botifarra"), blood sausage ("botifarra negra"), veal, mouton, chicken, pork ears or cheek, and salted bacon ("cansalada") (all these ingredients are common in the Christmas festive version of the dish.)

17. Fricandó amb moixernons - This is a beef stew with a "sofrito" made of onion and special kind of small and flavoury mushrooms.

18. Pollastre farcit amb prunes _i_ pinyons - Stuffed chicken with sweet plums and pinenuts), that is a typical Christmas meal.

19. Faves a la Catalana - Broad beans stew cooked in a clay pot with pork, Catalan black sausage ("botifarra negra"), garlic, mint and other ingredients. The dish is also served in a clay pot.

20. Mar i muntanya (Sea and mountain) - This stew contains meat and fish that are served on the same plate. It may have different types of both foods.

21. Cassoleta - A 'cassoleta' is a small clay recipient and it can be used to name a stew that's served on it, i.e. 'cassoleta de peix' = fish stew, 'cassoleta de pollastre' = chicken stew.

22. Mandonguilles amb sèpia - This is meatballs with sauce and pieces of cuttlefish.

23. Calçotada - This is a special kind of spring onions with romesco sauce. There are some big dining halls where you can enjoy them en - masse or the best way is to join the locals in somewhere like Valls, which is just outside Barcelona. The main thing about calçots is that eating them is often part of a day's excursion to a "calçotada" traditionally in the area south of Barcelona (Valls etc.) The calçots are cooked on clay tiles over an open fire , you strip off the outer leaves and then dunk them in romesco sauce. You are provided with bibs while you eat this!! After that you are served meat cooked over charcoal. It''s a big social thing, people often going with workmates or a group of friends.

24. Pa amb tomàquet ("bread with tomato") - This is bread rubbed with fresh tomatoes and drizzled with olive oil and salt. Try this to accompany any dish, or as base for ham, local cold meats and sausages, cheese... This is the most characteristic Catalan fast food everywhere. 

Note: Lots of Catalan recipes (ones that say a la catalana) contain dried fruit either prunes or sultanas/raisins (eg "espinacs a la catalana" is spinach with pine-nuts and raisins).

D. Desserts:

1. Crema catalana - This is a custard pudding that has a coat of burnt caramel.

2. Panellets - These are small round sweets made with almonds, sugar, eggs and pine nuts. Panellets are seasonal, you can only find these around November 1 (All Saints Day).

3. Mel _i_ mató - This sweet is a smooth paste cooked with milk, curdle and water, and covered by a layer of honey.

4. Saint John's coca - (Coca de Sant Joan) - This is a cake or sweet bread that is like a flat, oblong sweet bread, topped with candied fruits. It is served on June 23, the feast of Saint John.

5. Carquinyolis- Almond cookies, similar to Italian cantuccini

6. Tortell -This is an O-shaped brioche pastry stuffed with marzipan, and that on some special occasions is topped with glazed fruit. It is traditionally eaten on January 6 during Epiphany (Three Kings). This one was the traditional type, but nowadays there are many other different types (stuffed with cream, with custard, made of puff pastry, with lardons, etc).

7. Xuxos - These are pastries filled with custard or cream.

8. Musicians's dessert - This has uncooked almonds, hazelnuts, raisins, nuts, served on a plate with a glass of "moscatell", a sweet dessert wine.