Catalonia’s Food Tradition
On November the 16th 2010, UNESCO decided to recognize the Mediterranean Diet as a World Intangible Cultural Heritage. After long years of tradition, the Mediterranean Diet Foundation (Headquartered in Barcelona) has consolidated Catalonia as the food capital of the Mediterranean. The best sign for this is the high amount of Michelin Star restaurants in the region and being home to the best Chefs in the World: Ferran Adrià, Santi Santamaria (now continued by his team), Carme Ruscalleda and the Roca brothers. Their creativity, high quality and innovation are well known and have influenced the entire world. There is no doubt that Catalonia is still the clear leader with four of the Guide’s three-star establishments, two of the 12 ‘two-star’ restaurants and more than 40 of the 120 ‘one-star’ restaurants. Actually, regarding Spain, one in three of the country’s best restaurants are in Catalonia.
The Catalan Gourmet tradition excels in many areas. Its stock tradition has permitted Catalonia to produce wonderful Lactics, Butcher’s delicatessen (embotits) and Meats. Also, due to its proximity to the Mediterranean there is wide variety of Seafood and perfect weather conditions for Oil and Wine production. Thanks to the French influence, Catalonia has fantastic Sauces and Conserves, Deserts and Chocolates. And finally, due to its clear commercial influence, this region has been a leader on manufacturing Teas and Coffees.
The Catalan Gourmet tradition excels in many areas:
- Dairy products. Catalonia produces a vast variety of wonderful cheeses, ranging from dry to fresh products. Its production is basically located in the rural areas and it uses goat, sheep and cow milk.
- Oils. Catalonia’s Mediterranean climate is suitable for the production of olives. As a highlight, it produces a very special variety of olive called ‘Arbequina’, which makes smooth and very light oil. The most popular producing area is Lleida.
- Seafood. Due to its geographical location, the region produces great amounts of seafood, which has become one of the most common elements in all traditional dishes.
- Sauces and conserves. For centuries families have been conserving food and cooking with special home-made sauces. These creations, which have run informally in families for so many years, are now an outstanding element of the Catalan culinary tradition. Conserves were initially used to keep fresh products from turning bad. However, they have now become an excellent Gourmet product.
- Butcher’s delicatessen and meat. Catalan culinary tradition is also influenced by the large amount of stocking activities present in the interior regions of Catalonia, which explains why the vast majority of local dishes contain meat, such as pork, cow, sheep, etc. Similar to the conserves’ story, the butcher’s delicatessen known as embutidos in Spanish, were originated as a way to preserve the pork meat. Embutidos have nowadays become one of our most recognized Gourmet products around the globe.
- Beer and Wine. Catalan beer and wine industries have a long tradition, being the last one especially well known for the Cava, the best counterpart to the French Champagne. But there are many other options of wonderful, rich wines that are already very popular around the world. For further information on Catalan wines visit www.catalanwinesusa.com
- Deserts and Chocolate. Catalonia has the best producers of desserts and sweets in Spain. Thanks to the French influence, their pastry is unique and of a very high quality.
- Coffee and Tea. Catalonia has been roasting and producing coffee and tea for many decades, becoming a clear leader in Spain.