IberiaNature A guide to the natural history and food of Spain
By Nick Lloyd - Home - Contact

Catalan sanwiches and tapas

Expert guided food tours in Barcelona by Nick Lloyd of Iberianature.

Xarcuteria - Charcuterie:

Expert guided food tours in Barcelona by Nick Lloyd of Iberianature.

The first lesson in Catalan is that the letter 'X' is pronounced 'ch' or 'sh'! This one rule makes the language much more accessible - there are plenty more. Catalan is a truly phonetic language, i.e. you say what you read, but many phonemes like 'x' are completely different to those of English!

Pork is a big thing in Catalonia , especially inland, so I'm including fresh products as they are often used in conjunction with one another. Before modern food processing methods and refrigeration, the household porker was bumped off in mid-winter and this practise continues today on many farms. The matança was and is a big event as the preserved meats, especially sausages and hams dried in the freezing mountain air, were essential to supplement the diet for the rest of the year. But the blood and offal could not be preserved, so great feasts were held both to use them up and to reward the numerous volunteers who helped in the not inconsiderable task of converting a large and rather angry pig into so many lumps of dried meat and jars of preserves! Catalan charcuterie is really the subject for a book in its own right, so just a few pointers to the ones featured in this guide, plus some specials, are included here. I've also concentrated on the charcuterie that is usually made by local butchers and ignored the large range of specialised products that are marketed throughout Spain . Likewise I've used local names found in the Pallars Jussà comarca in the Lleidan Pre-Pyrenees. Even within Catalonia there is considerable variety of names for the same product or, more confusingly, different products with the same name!

Baldana ( morcilla ) - black pudding: There are many types including some are heavily spiced or have the addition of onion or rice. Other recipes are known nationwide and lead to linguistic anomalies, like the rich and spicy Baldana de Granada, which logically would come from Andalusia , and is better known by its Spanish name, morcilla .

Botifarra blanca : a mild white sausage, which appears similar to British bangers but are in fact pre-cooked. Botifarra amb ous is made with egg and must be cooked to serve whereas the regular blanca can be served as a cold cut. Otherwise consider botifarra blanca as a normal sausage. They are mildly spiced with pepper and sometimes a hint of garlic. Another variety is amb lengüa , which is made using tongue and is very robust on the palate!

Botifarra negra : similar to but not quite a black pudding (see baldana above). It is not only made of blood, but lights and other bits too, a favourite is with onions ' amb ceba' . I have been told that the main distinction between baldana and botifarra negra is that the former is stuffed with the raw ingredients and then cooked. I have to admit, however, that I've used the term botifarra in relation to all black puddings for over twenty years without any question or misunderstanding!

Confit - meats preserved in jars with oil and lard: Confit is a very handy addition or substitute for stock. The odds and ends of the pig like ears, snout, etc. are boiled down to release their gluten and then packed with a little strong olive oil so the finished product is slightly yellow. Duck and goose are also preserved in this way and are great delicacies, often featuring in restaurants as a dish in their own right.

Fuet : a dried sausage to be served cold sliced thinly and universally eaten with pa amb tomaquet .

Girella : a speciality only found in Pallars Jussà. It's a sort of haggis made with rice instead of oatmeal and is heavily spiced with black pepper. It's best sliced and fried in a very little oil until crisp.

Llangonissa : a very meaty thick raw sausage sometimes sold by the length. It is best grilled though fried is fine. It is essential to cook llangonissa slowly as the meat is so dense. Pallars Jussà is noted for the quality of its llangonissa and I can attest that city versions are pallid affairs in comparison. They are useful in winter dishes like lentil stews or in the very popular llangonissa amb mongetes , i.e. with white beans, which makes a superb farmer's breakfast after a busy morning pruning trees, chopping firewood, etc.!

Salsitxa ( salchicha ) : a thinner, more refined version of the awesome llangonissa made either amb or sense pebre , with or without pepper. Like botifarra blanca, they are a good substitute for British-style bangers and are very useful for barbecues, mixed grills, etc. as they cook quickly.

Secalona : a dried llangonissa with little or no seasoning.

Xolis (chorizo): a dried sausage with paprika, may be mild or spicy. The latter is referred to as ' que pic!a' . The Basque name, ' txistora', has recently become popular in everyday use Txistora is always spicy.




Expert guided food tours in Barcelona by Nick Lloyd of Iberianature.



Expert guided food tours in Barcelona by Nick Lloyd of Iberianature.


See aslo a brief guide to Catalan food by Simon Rice


A guide to food in Spain

A brief guide to Catalan food by Simon Rice owner of this restored Casa Rabassaire which he rents out on the summer.

Cooking styles
Sandwiches & tapas
Special dishes
Rice dishes
First Courses
Main courses
Catalan desserts

See also Francis Barret's guide to food in Catalonia



Site visitors -