Why . . .

Last year, I was given an opportunity to travel in Europe.
I went to Madrid, the Canary Islands and spent New Years holiday in Barcelona.

When I arrived in Barcelona, It took me two days just to figure out how to eat.
The restaurants and stores open and close at unusual times. With my jet-lag and time difference, I ate many chocolate croissants and Gelato(available everywhere) until I began to figure out the patterns.

First of all, I am learning Spanish. I was with my friend who is fluent in French.
I could not figure out how to communicate very well.
However, my friend was doing well with his French. What is going on?
Well I noticed there were signs all over that were saying Catalunya is NOT Spain.
I found out, that the language in this area is Catalan. (a language banned as recently as 1979)
Catalan has similarities to Spanish but sounds and appears more like French.

Ok, with a little Spanish, lots of French and much hand language and pointing,
we were beginning to learn how to communicate.

Luckily, we met Glenn Santana a University Student in Barcelona studying Cinema.
Glenn did not go home to Mayagüez Puerto Rico for the holidays and was more than happy
to be our personal tour guide as well as being a very good friend.
With Glenn's help, we were able to see the "inside"
of the workings of Barcelona.
It is with Glenn's wonderful assistance that I am able to bring a taste
of Catalunya to Charlotte North Carolina!


Well, as is common in Europe, this area is on a quite regular schedule.

The workday is from 10 am until 10 pm, however most businesses close around 2 pm until around 6 pm.
Lunch is around 2 pm. The city comes to a standstill for several hours while everyone is on their Siesta.

At 6 pm people go for what some may consider "tapas".
Many times I watched local Spaniards, Italians and French folks
enjoying this meal eat like there is no tomorrow.

This is the meal I was most impressed with. The items are "A La Carte"
Everyone orders plates of different foods (and they are not little plates)
and all the people at the table enjoy a rather sizeable meal.
(Six olives on a plate for $8.50 seems to be an American invention)

When I go out with friends, we each order dinner,
however we may put the dinners in the center of the table
and get more empty plates so everyone tries everything!
The entire style of this evening meal in the Catalunya region is exactly how I love to eat.

Not to mention that the food was always VERY fresh,
well seasoned, perfectly cooked, and accompanied by the best bread ever.
There was always the cruet of wonderful Olive oil
to top off everything and the faithful cruet of balsamic vinegar always in sight.
Delicious espresso was a must.

The extra touch . . .

Every place we ate, there was always something "extra"
that was a specialty of the house and at some point in your meal,
you were presented with a sample taste of food, an apertif,
or an exquisite dessert as a gift from these friendly people.

There is no doubt that i left my heart in Catalunya.
The experience in Placa Catalunya on New Years Eve I will never forget.
Thousands of people, and while standing in one place,
I heard conversations in at least 13 languages going on around me.
(and these people seem to have no trouble communicating without understanding
each others languages... especially when it comes to food!)


Melting Pot . . .

Catalunya is certainly a melting pot, and similar to places like New Oleans, San Francisco and New York, there has been a melding of so many cultures which create a cuisine and a style that is unimaginable unless you can make the trip and try it.

Trips . . .

If you have an opportunity, I urge everyone to take a trip to Catalunya.
Go see Barcelona, Villanova, Girona, on the west of the Pyrenees
and Languedoc or Roussillon on the French side of Catalunya.

Until that time, come see us at Catalunya Cafe
and get a sample of the experience that is awaiting you!


I have no doubt, I left my heart in Catalunya!


My friend Glenn Santana who showed me the
"inside" of Barcelona . . .


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