A Primer on Catalan Cuisine

A Primer on Catalan Cuisine

Catalonia has been featured in the news quite often recently due to political, educational, environmental, and cultural affairs and is now one of the most economically dynamic communities of Spain. Since 2010, there has been growing support for Catalan independence. However, one thing has consistently been agreed upon when it comes to one aspect of the Catalan people is gastronomy. 


Catalonia sits in the northeast corner of Spain with more than 350 miles of Mediterranean coast­line stretching away from the eastern seaport of Barcelona with an enormous array of seafood from cod, salmon and monkfish to octopus, squid, anchovies, oysters and clams.

The northern border is dominated by the Pyrenees Mountains which separate Catalonia from the rest of Europe where one can find more wild mushrooms, truffles, herbs, and cheeses than anywhere else in Spain. Catalonia’s southern border is home to miles of fields that produce rice such as bomba and Bahía.

Since the Middle Ages, Barcelona has been a major port along the trade routes, connecting ports as far away as Alexandria in Egypt and Amsterdam in the Netherlands where trading relationships helped to carry ingredients such as hazelnuts, sugar, pasta, cinnamon, and saffron into Catalan homes and restaurants. The region’s longtime occupation by Muslims also made spices like caraway and cumin part of the vast culinary arsenal now known across Catalonia. 

Catalans eat an abundance of fish along with plenty of plant foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, and the very best extra-virgin olive oil made specifically from Arbequina olives. Studies have found time and time again that the Mediterranean Diet is comprised of leisurely meals including Vermouth hour (l’hora del vermut). This tradition of gathering with family and friends for vermouth and tapas before lunch, which is the main meal of the day, has recently been brought back to life in Barcelona. The Catalan diet limits red meat and deep-frying, drinking of wine in moderation and an emphesis on plenty of exercise.

We hope you’ve enjoyed A Primer on Catalan Cuisine! Wishing to experience the beauty of the Mediterranean cuisine in its home of Catalonia? Our culturally immersive group classes and native teachers can help put you on the path to fluency faster than you may have every thought possible! Click below to learn more.