In our Spanish region of Catalunya (Barcelona is the capital) we have many traditions, quite unique and that you will only be able to find here. We are proud to keep our traditions and of course food is always important.
“Pa amb tomaquet” is the Catalan way to say Bread with tomato, it looks simple but it has a proper way to prepare it and a reason why we have this traditional bread always next to our ham, omelette, meat, etc. Do not miss the opportunity to prepare it by yourself, we always like to do so and in the countryside restaurants they will bring the ingredients to your table and you must know what to do with them. It will recover you after a bike ride.
First comes the bread that it should be from “pa de pages”, farmer bread and it means the slide you will get will protrude from the plate. It has to be toast and if they use wood fire then will give an A+ to the restaurant. Then you usually will get a little basket with small tomatoes (should be very ripe). Look under the tomatoes because if you do not you could miss an ingredient, garlic. And of course you should receive Spanish olive oil. We could write a book about our oil but I will let you know more about it in a new post.
Now what should I do? With the bread in font of you take the garlic first. Grab a clove of garlic and cut it in half, you will use one half to scrape into your bread. Be careful garlic can be hot so it is up to you how hot will you like it to be. Now comes de tomato that we will also cut it in half and usually we will only need one half to spread the tomato in top of the bread. Take your time and release the tomato in your bread. You can leave the garlic, the empty tomato skin and the half you did not used in the basket so you will have it ready for the next slide. Now the bread is softer and almost ready but we need the last and very important ingredient. Use the olive oil at the end and now you got it, your first “pa amb tomaquet”. Some people salt the bread too, I usually don’t because the best friend for a bread like this is a piece of Spanish ham or omelette which are already salty. If I have finished my bike ride then I also like to have a beer next to it.
Tomato came from America and you can see different theories about the origin of “Pa amb tomaquet”, the one that makes more sense to me is the one that says it should be devised in rural areas in times of abundance, 18th century, of tomatoes (they could throw ripe tomatoes or use them) which are used to soften the dry bread. Bread was not so abundant especially after the succession Spanish war. If you want to know more about this war you can visit “El mercat del Born” a new museum in Barcelona that tells you all about this and the consequences (http://elborncentrecultural.bcn.cat/en).