As in many cultures, the Catalonian cuisine has a great character: its innovative cooking which often looks back to history and traditions for inspiration.
Although some contemporary Catalan authors, such as Josep Pla,Jaume Fàbrega or Eliana Thibaut i Comalada, among others, have stated that, besides the Catalonia proper, this kind of cuisine takes in the Balearic and Valencian cuisine, their opinion is not widespread, nor is supported by either the Catalan, Balearic or Valencian governments. In any case, Catalonia has been influenced by several cultures over the passage of time: the Greeks, Romans, the Italians during the 18th century, and even the French, have all left their mark on this complex cuisine to the point in which nowadays there is a culinary package including the Balearic, Valencian, Southern French, Aragonese or Murcian cuisines.
Tons of recipes and ingredients
The Catalonian cuisine presents the same ingredients other Mediterranean regions use: tomatoes, garlic, fresh herbs, olive oil (particularly those of the Garrigues and Siurana Designations of Origin, which are elaborated by using a variety of olive known as “arbequina”), onions, cod… The visitor is sometimes reminded of dishes from Provence, Rosellon, Naples or Sicily: cities which were invaded by the Kingdom of Aragon from which the modern Catalonia belongs to.
After all, to comprehend the gastronomy of this region the visitor ought to keep in mind that Catalonia has more than one cuisine: the sea cuisine at the Costa Brava, sea and mountain cuisine at Ampurdán, the remarkable cuisine of the valley of Arán and Cerdanya in the Pyrenees of Girona, the mountain cuisine in the Pyrenees of Lerida, and even the one on the coast of Tarragona, etc.
Each region stars in with its own recipes and ingredients. The visitor can be captivated by tasting local mouth-watering dishes containing sea urchins, rock fish and even seafood casseroles known as “suquets” all over the Costa Brava harbors, or by wild mushrooms which are the described as the passion of the entire Catalonia during the fall season, specifically in the forests of Lleida. The mixture of seafood with local products (for instance, the rabbit with lobster and snails, chicken with crayfish, among others) enchant every visitor to Girona. On the other hand, the ritual of eating “calçots” (small flavoursome green onions grilled on a flaming barbecue) and the delicacy of an excellent “allioli” (garlic sauce) will always make the traveller’s mouth water around those villages within Tarragona.
Rice is also a common dish throughout Catalonia and one seafood dish which is relatively new in spite of its popularity is the “fideuá” (consisting of noodles). The “fuet”, “llonganisa”, and “butifarra” are the classical sausages and the local “esqueixada” or “escalivada” (mixed vegetable stews) will leave us flabbergasted.
In any case, a mixture of cultures opens the way to imagination. The table is laid and Spain has many choices. Would you care for the Catalonian one?