Eat Local in Barcelona: A Guide to Catalan Cuisine
Have you ever arrived at your dream destination super-excited to dive into the local cuisine only to realize you have no idea where to start?
That was me in Venice in 2013, a city notorious for its tourist traps. I arrived without a plan then spent the next three days in misery – eating soggy pizza, over-cooked pasta, and tasteless panini.
Never again! I promised myself that would be the last trip I ever took without doing a little research beforehand.
Doing the legwork for my recent trip to Barcelona, however, wasn’t easy. Not compared to planning food-first travel to Paris or Rome! Fortunately, it all fell into place once I got my hands on a review copy of Eat Local in Barcelona: A Guide to Catalan Cuisine.
The guidebook is co-authored by Ashley Babin and Alex Sexton, founders of the travel blog In Pursuit of Adventure, and sweethearts who roam the world looking for the best places to eat and drink with the locals. (You may recognize Alex from the awesome guest post he did for us in April, Top 10 Barcelona Restaurants for First-Time Visitors.)
Their new guidebook takes an in-depth look at the culinary history, customs, local ingredients, cuisine, and wine regions in Catalonia. The book also includes loads of restaurant recommendations.
If you’re planning a trip to Barcelona, I’ve got three good reasons (plus a bonus) why you’re going to love this book!
Reason 1: You’ll Know Exactly Where to Eat in Barcelona
Like Venice, there is no shortage of tourist trap eateries in the capital of Catalonia. With Alex and Ashley’s guide in your pocket, you’ll have no trouble avoiding them.
The book’s Barcelona Restaurant Guide section has all the details on their favorite places to eat and drink in the city. It’s divided into neighborhoods so you’ll be able to find something delicious nearby, regardless of whether you’re staying in Eixample or El Ravel.
Reason 2: You’ll Know Your Way Around a Menu
In the guidebook, Alex and Ashley take a deep dive into the essential ingredients of Catalan cuisine so you’ll know your botifarra from your sobrassada (both are sausages).
They also introduce the four fundamental sauces that are staples of Catalan cooking – sofregit, picada, samfaina, and allioli (the base for the smoky, garlicky, deliciousness atop your patatas bravas!).
In addition, there’s a detailed list of the traditional dishes that are unique to the region. From fideuà to bacallà in all its many forms, Alex and Ashley have you covered.
There’s even a handy phrasebook to help you order like a local. Trust me. You’re going to want to know how to ask your server, ¿Tiene este vino en la botella? 🍷
Reason 3: You’ll Be So Much Smarter Than the Average Tourist
In the first section of the book, Alex and Ashley review the historical, geographical, and political influences, as well as the evolution of, Catalan cuisine. (I know. That sounds a bit like a dull textbook, but it isn’t. I promise!)
Their writing is rich with insight, giving context to the food culture and customs.
Here’s a great example:
“Even after their language was banned and they [the people of Catalonia] lost significant autonomy, the Catalan spirit and strength persevered and shone through, especially in their cuisine. What they could no longer express linguistically or politically they could say through their food, and because of this, today Catalan cuisine is still very different than what you find in the rest of Spain. “
So not only will Eat Local in Barcelona show you where and what to eat. It’ll also help you understand the history and context of this unique, delicious cuisine.
BONUS: Gorgeous Artwork
The art created by Candace Kincade that graces the cover and section breaks throughout the book is absolutely beautiful!
By the way, I turned things around in Venice by taking a food tour. Best decision ever! I ate delicious fritti and cicchette, learned all about traditional Venetian cuisine, and came away with an entire list of great places to eat during the rest of my stay.