Do not worry, gentle reader, if you think this is turning into little more than a food blog. I have been doing and thinking about other things while here in Barcelona on holiday, but some of the thoughts may not come into full flower until later. Since we all enjoy eating to some extent – otherwise survival would be very unpleasant – it is perhaps easiest to write about food, so I hope you will indulge me yet another opportunity to describe a meal to you.
Today we had lunch at a local restaurant close to our flat, where we went a number of times on my previous Christmas visit to Barcelona. It is a family business run by a husband and wife and their adult daughter, and the food is very simple but good, typical dishes of this area of the Iberian Peninsula. For Americans in particular who may not have visited Spain before, you may find the menu structure somewhat interesting, for it is a bit unlike what we are generally used to back home.
The “Menu of the Day”, is a fixed-price menu of several courses. The diner may choose from several first courses, several second courses, desserts, and also typically includes bread and wine or another beverage. Then you have “Combination Plates”, where you have several different types of food all combined together on one platter rather than served individually. This tends to be a speedier options rather than waiting for things to arrive.
So at lunch today I went with the latter option, as I have enjoyed several multi-course meals over the past few days either at lunch or dinner. I had butifarra – which is a typical Catalan pork sausage – along with mongetes (white beans sautéed in garlic, olive oil and parsley); grilled padron peppers; and french fries. It is a fairly typical and very tasty Catalan combo dish:
For dessert, along with my – yes, again excellent – coffee, I had a plate of pears stewed in red wine and cinnamon. This is a dish which may admittedly sound a bit strange, but the red wine softens the pears and brings out their sweetness. And cinnamon is always a good spice for flavoring pears, any time you cook them:
The cooking here is, without a doubt, very simple. Yet the freshness of the ingredients, and the relative speed with which they can be prepared is great for the diner who may want to fuel up after a long day tramping around looking at the sights. And the same holds true for the diner who wants to get back out there again to wander about the city, without being so heavily fed that the desire to go home and take a siesta cannot be overcome.