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Catalan grub is quite different from the food of the rest of Spain. In Barcelona, the mainstay diet is typically Mediterranean, with an abundance of fish, legumes, and vegetables, the latter often served simply boiled with a drizzle of olive oil. Pork, in all its forms, is widely eaten, whether as grilled filets, the famous Serrano ham, or delicious embutits (cold cuts) from inland Catalonia.

Another local characteristic is, contrary to popular belief, the limited offer of tapas bars. Very good ones do exist but not in the same abundance as in Spain. Instead Catalans tend to go for racions (plates of cheese, pâtés, and cured meats) if they want something to pick at. Having said that, the tapas concept was brought to these shores by migrants from the south of Spain and nowadays have also become somehow part of the Catalan culture. In fact, the new breed of Catalan chefs such as Ferran Adrià, Carles Gaig, Cristian Escribà, Carme Ruscadella, Nando Jubany, Albert Adrià, Tito Colomines, Albert Enric or Joan Roca have revolutionized gourmet food all over the world and revived the image of tapas as the paradigm of Mediterranean cuisine now also incorporated into the Catalan way of life.

The word ‘tapas’ is derived from the Spanish verb tapar, “to cover”. The original tapas were the slices of bread or meat which sherry drinkers in the Andalusian taverns (in the south of Spain) used to cover their glasses between sips. This was a practical measure meant to prevent fruit flies from hovering over the sweet sherry. The meat used to cover the sherry was normally ham or chorizo, which are both very salty and activate thirst. Because of this, bartenders and restaurant owners began creating a variety of snacks to serve with sherry, thus increasing their alcohol sales.The tapas eventually became as important as the sherry.

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Video: © Bares Autenticos

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