Kathi – our intern of the month gives you some advise…
You cannot wait to taste Paella, Tapas and Sangria? Then it is time for you to spend your time in Barcelona, Catalonia’ s capital city. The Catalan cuisine has a lot to offer, more than you might think. For food lovers it is a must-visit location.
Arriving in a new city, especially in one as big and busy as Barcelona, is awesome and at first overwhelming. I come from a small town, where the way of life is a bit different. So living in Barcelona with its numerous possibilities for day and night activities was an amazing prospect before my arrival. Since I have been living here, one of my favourite activities so far have been to taste the traditional Catalan Cuisine. I truly enjoyed every traditional meal. Thanks to its variety of dishes, I never got bored. So let’s experience the typical daily routine here in Catalonia!
From about 8-10 am you have your first breakfast, which usually contains a coffee with milk or a hot chocolate and a croissant, not more. After some hours you have your “second breakfast”, normally a Bocadillo, which is a baguette with ham and cheese, flavoured with mayonnaise, oil or tomato sauce. Moreover you might have another coffee or a soft drink.
Forget your pancakes or eggs for breakfast 🙂 That’s not the local breakfast.
Lunch is usually served between 1 and 4 pm. On a workday, you will see locals in Barcelona doing one of these three things: going home for lunch break, eating out of a Tupperware that they brought from home on a park bench or going to a bar or restaurant for the Menú del día, which consists of a starter, a main dish and a dessert with and beverage, which usually costs about ten euros. Walking around on the weekends, you will immediately recognize restaurants full of people from all age groups having long lunches with their friends or family. It’s not unusual to spend three or four hours at lunch.
After lunch, it’s coffee time! Nobody here will order a large Cappuccino, as it is too heavy after lunch. Otherwise they order an Espresso or a “Cortado”, which is an Espresso with milk. If it’s hot outside, order an espresso with milk over ice, which is fabulous. Afterwards, many people go and have a siesta.
From 5 to 7 pm, you will see locals having a beer, a tea or another coffee. A typical snack in Barcelona are olives, a plate of patatas bravas (potatoes with sauce) or a bag of potato chips.
At about 9 to 10 pm Catalan people start having their dinner. If you make a reservation in a restaurant before 9 pm, it could happen that you will be the only one in the restaurant. For this reason, many restaurants don’t even open before 8.30 pm. Whether it is weekday or not, if you’re invited out for dinner, do not think that it will keep people from staying out until the morning hours. Friends, food and having a good time always come first here in Spain.
Some specialities you should definitely not miss are…
For Catalans it is hard to understand why so many people put butter on bread when there is such a tasteful bread. In almost every restaurant, you will get the traditional catalan Pan con tomate, which is a toasted bread rubbed with fresh tomatoes, garlic, salt and olive oil.
Spain is famous all around the world for its Tapas, which are small appetizers. They may be cold (olives, cheese, small breads) or hot (small dishes like potatoes, meat, vegetables).
Paella, although originally from Valencia, is a very much an eaten dish here in Catalonia. There are many types of Paella. It is a rice dish with vegetables, seafood, meat or all of them mixed.
During the winter season in Catalonia, types of large sweet spring onions called Calçots are eaten as a traditional meal. They are roasted over hot coals, barbecued and served with a spicy sauce. The ritual traditionally takes place on a Sunday for lunch in which the Calçots are the first course, followed by meat dishes. Try them in one of the traditional farmhouse restaurants outside the city.
You really love sweet dishes?
Then you just fit to the Catalan desserts. Try them!
Churros are a famous snack in Catalunya. They are normally eaten for breakfast dipped in hot chocolate.
Crema Catalana is similar to the French Crème Brulée. It is made with sugar, eggs, cinnamon and burnt on the top.
If there’s one thing that Barcelona definitely has is the abundance of great restaurants, ranging from modern eateries to old-school Tapas bars and everything you could wish.
In order to find local and traditional Catalan restaurants, I recommend leaving the famous touristy Ramblas and discover some traditional restaurants. So, take your time and taste the typical Catalan cuisine!