By Ross Sanderson • 13 September 2023 • 13:30
Traditional Spanish Cuisine - CREDIT: Twitter
The eternal debate – Barcelona or Madrid? Spain’s two biggest cities have so much to offer in their own way and because they can be so different in many ways, they are so often compared.
Food is a huge part of Spanish culture and is one of the standout ways in which Barcelona and Madrid are distinguishable. Here are a few traditional dishes from both cities – which culinary metropolis takes your vote?
With recipes dating back as far as the 19th century, Faves a la Catalana is abroad bean stew that is traditionally cooked with blood sausage, paprika, white wine, tomatoes and bacon. Popular in the winter, it is prepared in an earthenware dish and served with fresh soft bread.
A classic Catalan cuisine, mandonguilles amb sipia combines the delicacies of the seas and the mountains together in this meat and seafood mix. The dish consists of meatballs that are cooked with cuttlefish and peas in a rich and savoury gravy. With the availability of both fresh fish and juicy meat, mandonguilles amb sípia is the perfect blend of surf and turf.
Another stew typical of the area, Fricando is made with slow-cooked beef and mushrooms and served with a picada (Catalan sauce) that is made from herbs, garlic, onions and wine. The beef is cooked to melt in your mouth and, while each family in Barcelona will have their own spin on the recipe, it has remained a staple dish in the region for years.
Served more as a snack or fast-food item, this hugely popular food is quite literally a sandwich filled with calamari. While putting fried squid in a roll or ciabatta may not sound like much of a delicacy, Bocadillos de Calamares are loved in the Spanish capital. Next to the city’s biggest train station, Atocha, over 2000 of these sandwiches are served every single day.
Translating to, “Madrid Stew,” this hearty dish is a chickpea stew that has been eaten in Madrid for centuries. Tradition states that each ingredient, which includes various meats and vegetables, be prepared and served separately, with the pot being for each new flavour. Additionally, any leftovers from the meal are often used to make Spanish croquetas.
Not for the faint-hearted, Callos a la Madrilena is a dish made from tripe that has been slow-cooked for hours on end. Eventually ending up as something of a soup, the tripe is cooked in a rich broth that will include black pudding, pig snout, oxtail, chorizo and chopped veg. While it may be a very distinct taste, there are few traditional dishes that a Madrid local would choose over this one if they had the choice.
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Based in Edinburgh, Ross is an NCTJ-qualified journalist. Having previously lived in Madrid, he specialises in Spanish Culture, Sport and Cuisine.
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