In 2010, the Mediterranean was declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. It is a modern nutritional model inspired by the traditional dietary patterns of some of the countries of the Mediterranean basin, particularly Spain, Portugal, the South of France, Italy, Greece and Malta. The main features of this diet are a high consumption of plant products (fruit, vegetables, legumes, dried fruits), bread and other cereals (with wheat as the basic starch), olive oil as the main fat, vinegar and wine in moderate amounts. Catalonia has a strong tradition of wine making and it is easy to find locally produced wines and cavas (sparkling white wines).
Catalan cooking is based on fresh, seasonal products. It is normal for family and friends to eat together and spend two hours or more around the table talking. Some typical dishes of the area are:
Pan con tomate
In Catalan: pa amb tomàquet. To accompany any meal or as the basis for a sandwich, it is bread with tomato, oil and salt.
In Catalan: Canelons. Meat-stuffed pasta rolls covered in bechamel sauce browned in the oven.
Fideuá y paella
Vegetables and meat or seafood are stir-fried in a shallow metal pan called a paellera and then the rice (for paella) or noodles (for fideuá) are cooked with them. There are other variations, such as black rice, which is coloured with squid ink..
Butifarra con alubias
In Catalan: Botifarra amb mongetes. Butifarra is a kind of sausage. It is grilled or barbecued and served with white beans.
Dorada a la sal
Giltfish is cooked whole thickly coated in salt. After being baked in the oven the crust hardens and is removed to serve.
Thinly sliced veal cooked in a sauce of onion, tomato, mushroom, white wine, oil, salt and black pepper.
A salad of white beans garnished with tomato or peppers.
This cold soup, originally from Andalusia, is a must in summer. Its basic ingredients are tomatoes, bread and oil, and it is often served with cubes of bread, ham, etc.
Escalivada y esqueixada
A salad of roasted or barbecued peppers and aubergines in vinaigrette. When shredded salt cod is added, this dish becomes esqueixada.
The name calçotada comes from calçot (a long sweet onion that is grilled over charcoal) but it’s the occasion when a group of people gets together to eat this delicacy. It is served with the tradition romesco sauce, made of tomato, garlic, dried peppers (in Catalan, nyores), toasted bread, oil, vinegar, salt and hazelnuts.
A very typical dessert consisting of custard topped with a thin layer of caramelised sugar.
Mel i mató
A traditional dessert in which honey is drizzled over a fresh Catalan cheese called mató.
Biscuits made with a mixture of flour, sugar, whole almonds and eggs.
Very thin rolled wafers traditionally eaten at Christmas.
A typical Christmas sweet made by cooking honey (or sugar) with egg whites and adding peeled, toasted almonds. This paste is then kneaded and traditionally shaped into a rectangular tablet or torta. Although it is traditionally made with almonds, today there are many varieties, including egg yolk turrón and chocolate turrón.