Catalan and Spanish cuisine

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 August, 2009, 12:00am

Top Mediterranean fare

The giant church Sagrada Familia is in Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, Spain. Although Catalan cuisine is similar to Spanish food, it has its own dishes. We looked at Greek cuisine last week. Catalan food is also a Mediterranean cuisine - seafood and fresh vegetables are a big part of daily meals.

Barcelona has many famous chefs and restaurants. The city's cuisine is one of the best in the world. Garlic, tomatoes, eggplants, olive oil and seafood are very important in Catalan cuisine, as they are in Greek cooking. Seafood is popular in the coastal areas. In the interior, Catalonia is well-known for its pork products, such as sausages and ham.


Catalonia is in northeastern Spain, and borders southern France. Its food has influences from southern France and from the days the Romans occupied it. It is also influenced by the cuisine of the rest of Spain.

Experts say Catalan food is one of the oldest unchanged traditions in Europe. Some Catalan dishes are said to be almost the same as they were hundreds of years ago.

Famous dishes add spice

While most British and Americans will always have a bottle of ketchup on the table when they eat, the Catalans use a sauce called allioli. It is made from mashed garlic, salt and virgin olive oil. They say it makes a good dish taste better, and makes it possible to even eat a bad dish.

Catalans don't eat a lot of those famous Spanish snacks called tapas. But they do have some well known snacks. One is pa amb tomaquet, or bread with tomato. The tomato is crushed, usually with garlic, and then dressed with virgin olive oil.

The name for one of the famous Spanish dishes, paella, comes from Catalan. A paella is a wide, flat pan. The dish probably evolved from poor people cooking rice in the fields and adding whatever ingredients they had. Today, in Catalonia, seafood is used to flavour paella. Its bright colouring comes from saffron, a red spice.

Spanish cuisine

The Spaniards are different from many Europeans. They use rice as much as they do potatoes and bread in their meals.

Paella can be found all over Spain. Another dish you can find is tortilla de patata, a potato omelette.

Tapas are hugely popular - they can be anything from chunks of fish to small potato and cured meat dishes. Shrimp with garlic is a tapas dish.

A common dinner dish is arroz cubano, rice served with a tomato sauce and eggs.

now do this

1 The capital of Catalonia is ...

a. Valencia
b. Barcelona
c. Madrid

2 The word paella originally meant ...

a. a wide, flat pan
b. a seafood dish cooked with rice and saffron
c. a potato omelette

3 The Spanish staple is...

a. potato
b. rice, potatoes and bread
c. bread


1. b 2. a 3. b