La Gastronomía (aka FOOD!)Barcelona, Spring 2012

Considering I am a college student living on a study abroad budget (or trying anyways), I cannot say I have necessarily scoped out all of the finest restaurants in Barcelona.  My family comes to visit me in late April after the program ends.  Obviously I cannot wait to see them, but I am especially excited to finally be “wined and dined” here.  I chose to live in an apartment that IES organized for my four-month stay in Barcelona.  While I truly do love the apartment option, cooking for myself can get a tad repetitive.  Not to mention my jealousy of all the students who rave about the amazing food their “señoras” cook in the homestays.  So when IES offered an optional cooking class, my roommates and I jumped at the opportunity.

We paid for two cooking lessons and an additional price for the cost of ingredients.  The classes were in the instructor’s home, which was unbelievable to say the least.  The house is situated high in the mountains and has a rooftop terrace that provides breathtaking views of Barcelona.  I can only imagine how fun it would be to cook up outside a warmer night!

The first night we cooked the most famous Spanish dish out there – paella.  For an appetizer, we made mussels topped with a vegetable mixture.  The starter plate was the most delicious white bean cod salad.  Last on the menu was dessert, which was a homemade cheese served with honey and walnuts.  I think I know why Europeans are so tiny… my kind of dessert is a large slice of Costco cake that would make them gasp over here!  Although I was not a fan of the paella, everything else was tasty and fairly simple to make.  The second night we continued with the traditional Catalan cuisine theme.  However, we did steer clear of seafood for those who were not huge fans of the first meal.  The starter dish was the standard pan de tomate.  The traditional preparation is simply toasted bread rubbed with garlic, tomato, salt, and olive oil.  However, you can really add anything to the bread such as bake vegetables, cheese, or meat.   For the main dish we made a chicken and sausage “stew” with vegetables and rice.  It literally was the best meal I have had here.  Dessert once again was fairly light and consisted of baked pears in a sweetened wine sauce.

Overall the cooking classes were a huge success.  Not only did I get to eat a delicious Catalan meal two times, but I also can say I cooked it.  Each night took about four hours and allowed us time to cook, drink, and eat with friends.  I cannot wait to return home and make some of these dishes for my family!

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