TRADITIONAL CATALAN WINTER FOOD
As sad as we are that summer is ending and the cold weather is just around the corner, there are still some nice things about Winter in Barcelona. Besides the occasional warm, beach-worthy days that stick out their beautiful heads now and again in winter, giving us a break from the cold, there are some really delicious Catalan dishes that you can try. These dishes are sure to warm not only your belly but also your soul.
Let´s start with everyone´s favorite: sweets and candy. If you have walked past pretty much any bakery in the last week or so, you might have noticed golf ball-sized pastries that are covered in pine-nuts. These are called “Panellets” and though on the expensive side, are absolutely delicious! They are often sold along other tasty treats of more or less the same size, and are the traditional dessert of All Saint´s Day (also known as Castanyada) which is celebrated on 1 November. Made with marzipan and covered in fresh pine nuts, you will definitely not be able to eat only one!
Speaking of Castanyada, another favorite winter snack is “Castanyas” (chestnuts) that are roasted on fire and sold by street vendors all over Barcelona. (If you smell something burning, it´s probably one of them and you´re not used to the smell yet). They roast the chestnuts and wrap them in newspaper and some vendors also sell preserved fruit. Still keeping to sweet treats, Turron is a very popular fudge-like dessert that is traditionally sold around Christmas in most supermarkets, although they can be bought from specialist stores through the rest of the year. They come in many varieties, some of which are flavored like Crema Catalana, another famous Catalan dessert.
On the healthier side, Calçots is a very popular dish and is essentially a scallion or green onion but with a milder taste and which is roasted on the fire or barbecue. It is served on terracotta tiles and eaten after peeling them with the equally famous Romesco sauce. It is so popular that there is even a Calçots festival in Tarragona, celebrating the harvest of Calçot.
Another very typical Christmas meal is “Pollastre amb prunes i pinyons” (Chicken with plums and pine nuts). Many people also like to cook different soups and stews, the most popular one being “Escudella”, which is a stew made with meat and vegetables. It starts off as a liquid with pasta as a soup, followed by the solid ingredients as the main dish. A common ingredient is a big meatball called “pilota”, but many also use “butifarra”, a common Catalan sausage. If you prefer chicken, try “cassoleta de pollastre” – a chicken stew that is prepared in a small clay bowl called cassoleta.
To read more about some of the other typical Catalan dishes, have a look at our article on Spanish traditional food.