21 Dec Christmas in Barcelona: What to eat?
There doesn’t exist a Christmas gathering without a plate of homemade food to share with your family. The Soup with Galets, Canelones, Nougat, ´la Escudella´ and ´la Carn d´olla´are the most characterizing dishes for this time of the year in Catalonia. Off course accompanied with a nice glass of wine or Cava, the catalan champaign.
But every dish has his own special story. Here you can read the gastronomic Catalan Christmas calendar:
Christmas Eve Dinner. The 24th of December
In Catalonia Christmas Eve is a show where ´Cagatio´ (The Christmas Log) is maybe even more important than the food.
Cagatió is a small tree trunk with eyes and mouth wearing a typical Catalan Christmas head:la barretina. During the December month it is important to take good care of this peculiar creature.
Cagatió is a symbol for the firewood that takes care of the warmth and love of your home. If you take good care of him he will become very generous on Christmas Eve especially for the children.
If he has been well fed and happy, this night he will bring many presents. You will have to cover him with a warm blanket, sing and give small taps on the back so he can ´shit´ out the gifts.
This family evening where you sing and play games are usually accompanied with cava,nougat and ´neulas´. Neula is a typical very thin and rolled cookie that often accompanies Catalan crème brûlée. It is a bit dry but with a glass of cava it is a superb combination. Besides that there are many other interesting delicacies to eat in Spain, like: nougat, chocolate, coconut and Xixona.
Christmas lunch. The 25th of December.
The great Christmas luch! The whole family gathers to eat together on a big table. In all Catalan homes they will eat ‘Escudella i carn d’olla’. It is a soup with vegetables and meat. Originally there would always be one large meatball called ´La Pilota´ that will be shared with everybody. Nowadays you will see different variation of this Christmas soup with for example stuffed pasta shells and smaller meatballs.
In addition to this typical Catalan starter, it is common to eat stuffed turkey as a main course on Christmas Day.
The dinner of San Esteban. The 26th of December.
In the Catalan culture the 26th of December is also a holiday where they celebrate Sant Esteve.
It is very common to use any turkey or other leftovers of Christmas Eve and Day to make another very tasty dish: Canelones. This rolled pasta filled with meat, covered with béchamel and grated cheese is a must eat on this day. Especially the ones grandma makes in the oven are delicious.
If you want to try this traditional dish you can go to ´Petit Committee´, a restaurant that cooks following the traditional Catalan cuisine. Or go to restaurant ´Etapes´, who has reinvented this dish making a more modern version with foie gras.
The day of the Three Kings. The 6th of January.
Christmas just ended but the Three Kings are already arriving and they take with them their gifts! After a day full of unwrapping gifts it is time to relax and eat the very typical ‘Tortell de Reis´. Which is a cake specially made for this day.
The story about this magical cake is a little bit different in every home, but the one of my grandma is very easy. Inside this cake there are two hidden figures: a bean and a king. If you are lucky enough to find the king in your slice you have won the crown that come with the cake. But if you find yourself biting on a bean you are the one paying for it all!
If you’re determined to share this tradition with family and friends, we recommend two bakeries in Barcelona that are known for their excellent ´Tortells de Reis´. The famousHoffmann bakery that will have different options of cakes: chocolate, fruit or ´Galette des Rois´, all of them are delicious. Or the ´Tradizionalia´ bakery that uses ecological ingredients and traditional pastry methods.
Or how we say it here in Catalan … BON NADAL!