Barcelona Can Win Your Heart Through Catalan Cuisine

By: Andrei Mocanu

Soccer, beaches, architecture, and commerce in Barcelona vie for the attention of world travelers of all genres. The city has convenient sea, air, rail, and road connections with the rest of the planet. What can Barcelona offer better than any comparative travel destination?

One answer resides in cuisine. Barcelona is a distinguished ambassador of Catalonia to the world. This endearing part of Europe has been witness to invaders and immigrants for some two thousand years. Catalonia has always been graciously tolerant yet fiercely independent. The people of this verdant land welcome cultural influences from all comers, but never allow their collective identity to disappear altogether. One expression of this trait is the relationship between Mediterranean and Catalan cuisine.

The food and wine of the most southern fringes of Europe has a significant place in the menus of most international food lovers. Indeed, gastronomy is perhaps the most pleasurable feature of Barcelona's frequent and occasional guests alike. The entire Mediterranean coast has a richly deserved reputation for freshness. Every restaurant or home that claims to serve genuine Mediterranean fare must prepare dishes from salad to seafood only after guests have arrived.

Catalan cuisine shares an abiding commitment to vitality with its neighbors, but has the added element of surprise to which the rest of the Mediterranean may not lay claim. Homemakers, chefs, and aficionados of this area have innate abilities to blend the most unusual meal ingredients in to intriguing attractions for the senses. You may not expect red and white meats in one dish, but a deft Catalan cook will conjure this with aplomb. Similarly, one may not be impressed with a recipe that involves just bread, tomatoes, and seasoning, yet the iconic Pa Amb Tomaquet never fails to tantalize the most cynical of palates.

Stand of homemade Catalan favorites, Mercat de la Abacería, Gràcia District
Photo by: Jen SFO-BCN, on Flickr

Barcelona has restaurants to suit all food choices and budgets. Yet its wealth of the finest Catalan cuisine establishments is a feature for everyone to enjoy. Dining in Barcelona can lay the bricks for a passionate and lasting association with Catalan fare. The variety is nearly endless, so there is little danger of boredom with the Catalonian way of eating and drinking. However, a first experience needs some guidance to deal with the bewildering range on offer.

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