Region: Catalonia, Catalunya (Catalan), Cataluña (Spanish)
Provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona
Catalonia has gained a reputation for producing some of the best food in the world. Restaurants such as El Bulli and El Cellar de Can Roca have taken the food of the region to a level that is admired around the globe. As a result Catalonia now jostles with the Basque region for the right to claim the best food in Spain.
The region has always had a reputation of great restaurants and the fine dining influence of the French, combined with the simplistic style of Mediterranean and Northern Spanish cuisine, has created an eclectic style of cooking that has taken on its own unique identity; Catalonia recipes can be as simple or as complicated as the people of the region!
The simple quality is evident in traditional Catalonia recipes like pa amb tomàquet, where bread is served after being rubbed with tomato and garlic and topped with the best olive oil. Mediterranean cooking is embraced in the wonderful seafood dishes such as susquet and zarzuela and there is even an Italian influence with local versions of pizza (coques) and pasta dishes making a regular appearance on restaurant menus.
The French influence can be recognised in the sophisticated use of sauces to add flavour to meat and fish dishes and in the quality and complexity of the pastries and desserts.
Another famous Catalonia recipe is Allioli which started life in the region as a simple mixture of olive oil and garlic; it has since spread across Spain and evolved into the mayonnaise-style sauce that is more commonly found in supermarkets today.
A visit to Barcelona's famous Boqueria market can give you a glimpse of what food means to the people of the Catalonia; the wonderful array of produce and the many bars serving delicious snacks and tapas to the hordes of hungry locals can seem quite bewildering to anyone not acquainted with the region. But for those bold enough to join in with the hustle of everyday market life, this can be a richly rewarding experience. I like to stop here at lunchtime and grab some salt cod croquettes, drink a beer or two and frustrate the bartenders with my sub standard language skills!
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Learn about the diversity of landscape, culture and cuisine that exists in the different regions of Spain.