Food & Culture: Catalan Cooking Class

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This week my study abroad group and I went to a Catalan cooking class at a neat place called Sabores taller de cocina. The small kitchen was located in the middle of a quiet street, but the moment you walked into the building you were transported to a modern kitchen.

The head chef happily greeted us and made us feel right at home. Right before we started cooking, we were each given a rundown of the history of each dish and handed our very own apron. The kitchen hosts various cooking workshops – the theme of our workshop was Catalunya. At the cooking class we were taught how to cook four of Catalunya’s most popular dishes. Each dish was eaten in traditional tapas style.

Crema Catalan

 Main Dishes:

  1. Fideuà –  a seafood dish similar to Pallela but rather than using rice, we used noodles. Think noodles, fish broth, shrimp, and clams.
  2.  Escalivada con achoas – a piece of bread with a tomato spread, seasoned anchovies, and a dash of olive oil to finish it off.
  3. Trinxat de la cerdenya – mashed potatoes with pieces of pork sprinkled on top.
  4. Crema Catalan – A creamy dessert with a caramelized top layer, also known as Spain’s version of creme brûlée.

The dynamic of the kitchen allowed us to work together and truly appreciate the hard work and history that surrounds the Spanish culture. As we chopped vegetables, we each told stories of our families and our unique traditions inside our personal kitchens. During our conversations, I realized that food was such a central aspect of a culture, and to learn the recipes of each of these dishes allows me to bring a piece of Catalunya back home to the US.

As a Mexican, it was really neat to see just how similar and distinct some of these dishes were from traditional Mexican cuisine. For example, Fideauà is similar to soap de fideo, and crema catalan has a very similar taste to arroz con leche. One of the main reasons I wanted to visit Spain was to familiarize myself with a culture that was so intertwined with Mexico, and the food was a prime example of the history behind Mexico’s colonization.

Inside of that kitchen the clashing of dishes and the sound of a knife hitting the cutting board made feel immersed into the Spainsh culture. The simplest ways to share a tradition is through food, so to get the privilege of learning the nuances behind each dish is one of the most cherished moments I will have of this trip.