Romesco, Cremat, Parrillada, Calcotada, Suquet (1964)

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Mon Jun 21 03:30:27 UTC 2004

NIU + ALLIOLI--14 English Google hits, 1 Google Group hit
SUQUET + POT--278 English Google hits, 6 Google Groups hits
PARRILLADA--21,500 Google hits, 1,720 Google Groups hits
A LA BRASA--827 English Google hits, 1,180 Google Groups hits
(Romesco, Cremat, Parrillada, Calcotada, Niu, Suquet, and a la brasa are all NOT in the OED)

   Two interesting books, both from 1964, with a few pages on the cuisine that I'll copy below.
   At least _some_ of these should make the OED soon...I want to fly to Barcelona right now.

by Jose Maria Espinas
Barcelona: Editorial Noguer

Pg. 43:  CUISINE
   It is only to be expected that the typical cuisine in Tarragona should be characterized by the same features as the _Catalan cuisine_ which are also those of the Provence, Majorca and the Mediterranean in general.  It may surprise the reader to know that one of the first
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cookery books ever printed following the invention of the printing press, was a text by Ruperto Nola, published in Barcelona in 1520.
   Tarragona contributes to the Catalan gastronomical perspective with dishes of rare quality, mainly due to the goodness of the natural products of the _Camp de Tarragona_, like hazel nuts from La Selva del Campo, and the fine olive oil from Reus and Tortosa, not counting the marvelllous sea food, so rich in variety.
   _Seafood dishes_ play a fundamental role in the typical cuisine of Tarragona.  The _Zarzuela_ is a rich dish composed of many different kinds of fish and shellfish; the _Parrillada_ is also made with a variety of fish, all of it grilled and sometimes served on straw baskets.  A portion of any of the two makes an abundant meal for almost anybody.  For fish dishes Tarragona has created a rich sauce, the _Romesco_, which has rapidly become popular along the whole coastline.  It is made with garlic, tomatoes and peppers pounded on a mortar and mixed with toasted almonds.  The resulting paste is thinned down with vinegar and olive oil, seasoned with salt and white pepper and left standing for a few hours before finally being strained.  Like all recipes, this one has a few variations on the amount and distribution of its elements, and the right amount of everything is the key to success.  Tarragona holds a yearly _competition for Romesco_ where the best cooks on the coast make their own special dishes with Romesco.  The lucky jury whose agreeable task it is to compare the best qualities in each separate delicacy, confer the prices and the title of _Mestre Romescaire_ (Master of Romesco).
   The _prawns_ from San Carlos and Cases d'Alcanar are one of the favourite dishes, in preference even to the excellent fish the coast offers.
   Valls has a special winter delicacy which attracts visitors from January to April.  The _calcots_, or young onions cooked, seasoned and dipped in their special sauce.  They are eaten with your fingers and a big serviette is available to wipe greasy fingers.  This usually accompanies either grilled lamb or pork sausages and is called _calcotada_.  The accompaniment to this gastronomic concert is the local wine, very strong and stimulating.  Valls is the meeting point for cars and coaches when the season for the _calcots_ starts.  The barbecue in the open air creates an atmosphere that reminds one of some old popular engraving.
   _Pastry_ is also very good.  Besides the popular _mona_ (a decorated gateau traditionally given by godparents to children at Easter, and sometimes decorated with the utmost fantasy), and the _panellets_
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(another specialty of Catalonia to mark the festivity of All Saints on the 1st of November), the province of Tarragona contributes with delicious varieties based mainly on the fine almonds that part of the country grows, like _rifaclis_ and _carquinyolis_ from L'Espluga de Francoli, _merlets_ or _montblanquins_ from Montblanch, _bufats_ from El Vendreli, _menjar blanc_ from Reus, _pastissets_ from Tortosa, etc.
   The _wines_ deserve a special mention.  For one thing, part of the wine growing county El Penedes belongs, administratively speaking, to Tarragona, but besides this, the local wines are the _Priorato_ and the _Tarragona_.  Priorato is a wine produced in the county of this name whose soil is rich in sulfuric slate called _llicorella_; cultivation is hard and the crop small but the wine is excellent and of high alcoholic content.  It can be drunk pure and it makes a delicious strong drink or it can be used to reinforce weaker wines.  French vintagers have successfully used it for a long time for their "coupages".  The Tarragona is just as good as table or dessert wine.  Another one we can mention is the highly appreciated _Gandesa_.
   There are also a few anisettes and liqueurs worthwhile trying.  Vintaged in Tarragona and of world-wide fame are Chartreuse and Pernod, the later having a higher grade here than in France where it is known as _Tarragone_.  The dry _aguardiente_ anisettes from Valls are very famous.

by Nestor Lujan
Barcelona: Editorial Noguer

Pg. 36:  San Pedro de Roda was founded so long ago that in the year 943 it was already said to be ancient.  During the whole of the Middle Ages the Benedictine friars ruled the country, protecting the fishing that was the basis of their food and producing great quantities of olive oil.  This makes Jose Pla think that perhaps it was they who introduced the _allioli_* into the cooking of fish in our country after having tasted it during some visit to Provence.  The fondness of the Benedictine monks for these fish dishes cooked with garlic is obvious from the old documents in the convent of San Feliu de Guixols.
   *_Allioli_ is a Catalan colloquialism for a kind of sauce made from olive oil with garlic added, and much used in the cooking of fish dishes on the Costa Brava.

   The Guide could not end without a chapter on cooking.  In general, food in the whole of Catalonia is very good and on the Costa Brava, it is excellent.  As far as fish is concerned, on the Coast, as long the whole Mediterranean, it is cooked according to old and firm ritual.  Cooking is done mainly with olive oil which greases lightly and fries efficiently.  Thus in honour of old Mediterranean cultivation--the olive and the grape--a chapter on cooking had to be included.  And remembering Brillat-Savarin who said that the
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discovery of a new dish is more important than the discovery of a new star, it has been thought worthwhile to give some indications on possible new dishes, and others with a strong flavour particular to this Coast.
   As might be expected the basis of the Costa Brava cuisine is fish, although this does not mean that there is not realyl excellent quality meat, mutton in L'Escala and on the whole Coast in general, the sausages of Palagrugell, game in Cadaques.  But the rich variety of fish along the sea-coast, and the palate of the _gerundeses_* of these regions have created some very noteworthy dishes.  Thus, the first of these indications concerns fish; the best fish on the Coast is _nero_ or jewfish.  This fish is found among rocks, is black and gold, muscular and hard.  _Nero_ is good whichever way it is cooked: grilled, baked, fried, cooked in rice or _suquet_.  The flesh of _nero_ is so tasty, so rich and savoury, that it permits any kind of manipulation.  Rice with heads of _nero_ is the ypical dish of Fornells and the whole of this sea-coast.
   _Dentol_, a species of porgy, is a butcher of a fish, and luminous.  _Dentol_, like bass, serves gloriously for a fish _suquet_.  This _suquet_ is nothing more or less than a mixed "pot" of Mediterranean fish.  According to latitude this "pot" will have different characteristics, reaching the sublime in Provence with the masterly _bouillabaisse_.  On the Costa Brava _suquet_ is made in a primitive way, if possible over a quick wood fire, and has a magnificent sauce made with oil, tomato, onion, garlic, and is extraordinarily vivid.  _Suquet_ can be had in any popular restaurant but it reaches its best in L'Escala and the inn "Casa la Neus".
   Another fish of excellent quality that can be eaten without hesitation along the whole Coast is _roger_ or red mullet.  This fish is really exceptional in Tossa, above all in the month of July, in Lloret, Blanes, along the coast of Torroella and among the rocks of Cape Bagur.  Red mullet is a voracious, greedy fish that even eats meat, and its quality depends on the food on which it has lived.  That caught in water whose bed is stony and well-provided with seaweed is best; it is big, with a round head and very hard flesh, and when it is cooked it turns a flaming red.  Mullet should be eaten _a la brasa_** with garlic and parsley, and even lightly scented by a tiny spray of fennel.
  * _Gerundeses_ are the people of the whole region of Gerona as well as the county town of the same name.
   ** Cooking _a la brasa_ is very popular in the Costa Brava, and might be defined as grilling either fish or meat without any oil or fat; it is often done on hot cinders.
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   AMong others, the blue fish is of very fine quality on the Coast.  Sardines in May and August make a succulent breakfast.  Bought as the fishermen step out of their boats in Tossa, L'Escala, Blanes, Cadaques or Sa Riera, cooked _a la brasa_ using pine wood in the morning, when they are fat, their colour a varnished blue, and accompanied by a fine, light dry wine of Ampurias or Llagostera, they are unforgettable.  _Verat_ or mackerel, eaten the same way, is tronger and requires a wine with more body, denser, rose or red.  Anchovies are not eaten on the Coast but pickled in brine.  In Tossa and above all in L'Escala they are prepared in a very singular way.  A jar of a hundred anchovies might be one of the best souvenirs of these places, if of brief duration, although they keep for years.
   Fish soup is good anywhere.  Its base is usually, _Burras_, _aranas_, _rape_ etc., and above all grouper and dory which in our latitude are the best elements for fish soup.  As for _arroz de pescado_ (fish cooked in rice), the best is that made with crabs and the first green peas of the season.  If the conger eels which are to be found near Tossa in thecove of Giberola are added, this rice becomes literally extraordinary.  Rice with lobster is an excellent dish, strong and aromatic.  If shrimps are used as a base, the rice is likely to be a little soft and sticky.
   _Bogavante_ a local variety of lobster is caught i Fornells, Calella and above all in Cadaques and is as delicate as lobster.  It is best eaten cooked _a la brasa_ with a vinaigrette_; lobster is also served this way.
   There is an old unsettled argument as to which is best, _bogavante_ or lobster_.  The finest palates aredivided on this question and it is the basis of fiery discussions among the gourmets of the Coast.  Lobster _a la Catalana_ might be tried.  It has a basis of chocolate but possibly this dish is not native to the Coast and it is rather artificially concocted.  However, a dish that is native to the Coast is that of lobster and chicken, from the region round Palafrugell and Palamos.  This dish, which the writer has eaten in private houses in Calella and in the Hotel Trias of Palamos, is sumptuous and noble, and is served with an opulent, magic sauce, golden-brown in colour and very difficult to make perfectly.  For this dish the Hotel Trias in Palamos can be recommended as having one of the best cuisines on thecoast.
   Another typical dish is lobster and snails and, in the region of Palamos, the celebrated _niu_.  _Niu_ or nest is a dish based on salt cod potatoes and pigeons and covered, with _allioli_ which is like a golden
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lava and makes it vividly gay.  This dish, strong, violent and heavy, is almost feudal and avokes memories of ancient Ampurdian.
  Molluscs (_mejillones_) have been devastated on the Coast.  Molluscs thrive best among rocks very battered by the waves, above all if sweet water filtres in; only in Cadaques--and perhaps in L'Estartit--is there still anything like an appreciable quantity, especially in a year of abundant rain.  In cadaques they are eaten boiled and are recommended as an _entree_; they have an odour and taste which are penetrating, briny and delicious.  In cadaques partridges from Cape Creus can be had in season and in La Selva magnificent woodcock.  Pork is excellent along the whole region.  _Butifarra de perol_ with haricot beans and the sweet _butifarra_ (sausage) of Ampurdan--excellently prepared in Palafrugell--the point at which confectionery and cooking meet, is an exquisite dessert.  Likewise, speaking of dessert, Palamos takes the palm with its buns and cakes.  In lower Ampurdan, caramel custard reaches a high level of perfection.  In Lloret and Tossa the preserves are excellent and the delicious autumn compotes and preserves are memorable.
   As the country of the _indianos_, coffee has an enormous importance.  The combination which is called _cremat_: coffee, rum, sugar and lemon in a kind of punch, drunk in a tavern in Llafranc or L'Escala in the jolly company of a few sailors, helps the visitor to apreciate a life that is humble but warm, and intense.

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