Food preparation, cooking methods & eating
In general, people in this country do not go in for elaborately prepared meals, and cooking tends to be fairly straightforward.
I use the term grilled / fried advisedly. Grills are not widely used in this country, except to make toast and brown cheese. Instead, most professional kitchens use a hotplate, heated from beneath, often but not necessarily corrugated, called a plancha [iron]. Oil is heated on this surface, and the hot oil cooks the meat or whatever. Another device is the parilla , basically a barbeque, used indoors as much as out.
Traditional Spanish lunches and dinners are eaten one item at a time, over several courses, and the custom of putting several different things on one plate, like the classic Irish or British meat & two veg, is regarded as being in poor taste, like fast food. However, bar / restaurants often offer platos combinados of this type for tourists and busy executive types in a hurry, sometimes involving quite strange combinations. Furthermore, serving chips or salad with grilled / fried meat or chicken is now the norm.
But perhaps the most interesting aspect is the occasion for certain dishes to be eaten. Although modern Catalunya, like most of Spain and all of France , is firmly secular for all purposes except posh baptisms, weddings and funerals, its traditions are mostly connected with the Catholic calendar programme.
Francis Barrett's Deconstruction of Catalan and Spanish Food
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