As the capital of Catalonia, and wedged between the mountains and the sea, as well as southern and northern Europe, Barcelona is a a gastronomic crossroads. Visitors will often opt for famous dishes from other regions of Spain (Galician octopus, Andalucian gazpacho or Asturian fava bean stew, to name but three). But there are just as many Catalan dishes offered on menus if you search a little.
Beyond the kind of tapas found all over Spain and the pan-Mediterranean or international fusion cuisine so widely offered in Barcelona, dishes such as fideuá catalana, escudella or calçots are more representative of local gastronomic traditions.
Mar i Muntanya
Many dishes draw on the catch of the Mediterranean and game from the Mediterranean, combining them together. This is known as Mar i Muntanya ('sea and mountain'). Paella or fideuá (see below) are often served with both shellfish and hunks of pork and chicken. Another classic is a dish actually called Mar i Muntanya, which combines chicken with prawns and almonds.
Pan amb Tomaquet
It's almost as simple as it sounds - tomato bread, with a liberal splash of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt - but pan amb tomaquet is such a winner accompanied by jamon serrano, embotits (cured meats) or cheese it's an uber-present on Barcelona menus.
A pasta-based alternative to paella armed with meat and seafood, fideuá was invented, so the story goes, by a cook on a Valencian fishing boat whose captain was prone to eating so muh of his daily paella that the other fishermen were left with meagre scraps. One day, the cook replaced the rice in his paella with noodles, hoping the captain might leave more to the others. He was wrong, as the captain demolished the new dish with even greater relish than normal. This dish is as popular in Catalonia as anywhere, where it's served with thinner noodles and squid and cuttlefish, as well as garlic mayonnaise, or 'alioli'.
A Catalonian stew made with different beans and meats, particularly with sausages and ground beef, escudella traditionally comes in three stages. First is the broth, with chick peas, potatoes. Second is the carn d'olla, with the boiled meats. And last of all, a plate of vegetables.
Escalivada is a delicous dish of grilled vegetables - peppers, aubergines and onions - marinated in oil and garlic.
The coca is a Catalonian version of pizza, but with a pastry base and either topped with grilled vegetables and meats, or, in the case of the 'coca dolç' or sweet coca, fruits and sugar. Or in some cases, both meat and fruits.
In spring, these leek-like spring onions are grilled on the barbecue and then dipped in a delcious red pepper sauce called romesco.