Nestled between the Collserola mountain range and the Mediterranean, Barcelona’s cuisine is diverse and enjoys excellent seafood, fish, meat, poultry and vegetables. These staples are traditionally eaten with a sauce, such as romesco, which is made from olive oil, garlic, almonds, tomatoes and vinegar. Most of the sauces are a combination of nuts, vegetables, olive oil and garlic. It’s also typical in Barcelona to mix meat and seafood, which is locally referred to as mar i muntanya, meaning ‘sea and mountain’: a fitting reference to the city’s location.
The Catalans are mad about mushrooms. So much so that every autumn, people migrate to Berga, the Spanish mushroom capital for the Festa del Bolet mushroom festival. Bolet mushrooms in particular are a Catalan delicacy and can be bought at the Boqueria market on Las Ramblas. Bolet mushrooms are traditionally fried in garlic and parsley and served with meat, such as cured pork.
Pork is very prevalent in Catalonia, as the region is one of Spain’s main swine-raising areas. Longaniza, a finely textured, long, thin, paprika spiced and cured sausage is a Catalan delicacy. This pork treat can be enjoyed as tapas on pam tomaquet: fresh tomato squashed on bread with olive oil and garlic. Quality longanizas are available at Barcelona’s Mercat Santa Catarina, an indoor market in the Born district.
Fish is ubiquitous in Barcelona and Monkfish – a dense, sweet, white fish – is a local delicacy. It goes very well with spinach, creamy potatoes and almonds. You can find excellent quality Monkfish at the La Paradeta fish market in Borne.
Shrimp is another of Barcelona’s delicacies sourced from the Mediterranean. The best way to enjoy this subtle, sweet shellfish is – as the locals put it – Gambas Al Ajillo, which literally translates as ‘Shrimp with Garlic’. The fish market in the Boqueria on Las Ramblas sells the freshest shrimp in the city.
During the autumn, artichoke hearts are an unmissable delicacy to have in Barcelona. This green, nutty vegetable can be relished as part of a risotto, with lots of garlic, parmesan and parsley. To find the finest quality artichoke hearts, go to Mercat Del Ninot in Eixample.
When spring has sprung, calçots are an unusual Barcelona delicacy to discover. This onion variation is ideally cooked until it’s slightly cindered and then added to a tomato, pepper, mint and nut sauce and served with fish or meat. It’s a very versatile vegetable and it’s also often used in stews and salads. The best place to find calçots in Barcelona is at the Boqueria market, where they are sold in packs of 24.
Hatty Copeman is a freelance travel journalist from London and currently based in Barcelona, where she writes about cities art, music, food and places to see from an insider’s point-of-view. Find her at hattycopeman.com or on Twitter @hattycopeman