“Bread, tomato, olive oil, salt….for a Catalan, great eating starts and ends there…”
Pa amb tomàquet is a Catalan dish. A simple dish consisting of bread garnished with tomatoes and seasoning result in the quality of ingredients being undoubtedly the key to the dishes success.
These specific ingredients are;
- Day old pan de crista (specified to be slices in half, horizontally)
- Ripe tomato – Integral to use tomàquetsde ramallet (vine tomatoes ) or ( tomàquets de penjar (hanging tomatoes)
- Sea salt
- Extra virgin olive oil
“the gesture of rubbing tomato on a piece of bread is a sign of Catalan identity.”
For some an every meal affair for others separated from their land a bout of nostalgia.
History & Methodology
Interestingly enough, specific actions involved in the methodology of preparing speak volumes within Catalan cuisine culture. For example, Colman Andrew in his Catalan Cusine book states that moistening only one side of bread would indicate to Catalans that you grew up in a large family.
This interesting perception can potentially be a reminiscent of the history of this dish within the Catalan society – How it essentially developed from an useful and effective alternative to nourish with easily available and common ingredients in the households of the region and prevented from throwing away excessively of stale foods. Potentially this moistening of one side was to leave enough of the ingredients to share among the remaining family members?
While occasionally disputed, the common view is that it is relatively new. Catalan Chef Josep Lladonosa i Giró statedit made its first appearance in documented sources around the 18th century and Nèstor Luján a historian specializing in Catalan cooking, places this first written reference as being from 1884. Additionally his thesis contends that this recipe was created in the rural world during an abundant tomato harvest time with people using the tomatoes to soften the hard and dry bed, achieving as mentioned before, a use of overly available ingredients and presentation of throwing out stale food.
While nonetheless proclaiming an incredibly strong connection to Catalan culinary identity, Pa amb tomàquets ‘newness’ is interesting, notably when compared to how most Catalan cuisine dishes have a long tradition in culinary historical writings, some being featured in medieval writings with one of the oldest going back to Francesc Eixemenis’s Com usar be de beure e menjar (1384).