Traditional days in Barcelona - Bunyols de l’empordà

What to eat for traditional days in Barcelona

In Roma, live as a Roman.

When you are arriving in a new country, you need to acostum to their ‘way-to-live‘.
The first mean, is without a doubt the food, and the easiest way : the food of celebrations.
Catalonia has plenty of non-working days that often are associated with a pastry or a little something to eat.

Here is a list of what to eat for traditional days in Barcelona and its surroundings and it like locals.
Be aware that Vegans and peanut intolerants may not be always satisfied.

January, 6th – The Three Kings day

The Three Kings day ( Dia de los Reyes) is more important than Christmas.
Children receive their presents at the eve of this day. It is fabulously escorted with the ‘Tortel de Reyes‘ or ‘Roscon de los Reyes‘.
It looks as a brioche with a ring-shape but has candied fruits to remind the Kings gown with jewels and contains a segond surprise for the children: a Fève’, a ceramic object.
The lucky one falling on while eating it is the King/Queen and must choose his/her partner.
It is childish, but the young ones are crazy about it.

Where to find it: Any bakeries or in supermarkets for the stingy.

Traditional days in Barcelona Tortel de los Reyes
Tortel de los Reyes


Carnaval day (dijous gras) and the days that consist on Lent (la Semana Santa in Spain) brings two fingerfoods that could please the sweet and salty mouths:

  • Bunyols de l’empordà : The pastry the closest is without doubt the doughnut.
    It is the same way to fry them. But the main difference is in this slighty taste of anis.
    Be relieved ! the taste is not strong enough to make the fearful ones towards anis flavour disguted, I promised !
Bunyols de Quaresma with cream
Bunyols de Quaresma with cream
  • The white dry sausage (butifarra d’ou or butifarra blanca) is also traditionally eaten on that day. In opposite with the black sausage (or bloody sausage : Butifarra negra), it consists on a cooked sausage of white meat that you can eat by pieces or you could add it in a brew/soup, whatever you want.
    Weirder but not least good, the sweet sausage (Butifarra dolça) is also part of this day.
    Containing meat and sugar, it could be eaten with a piece of orange or a piece of bread ! Yummy!

In February or March, a strange leek is appearing on the market stalls. Too thinner for being worthy ?
No. Those are ‘Calçots‘ (Spring onions somehow). It’s one of the meal for the most festive events because we can easily prepared a huge quantity and celebrate the lunch in the street with friends, neighbors or even strangers.
So, how could it be eaten ? Only one traditional way : with your fingers, a bib and the Romesco sauce.
Calçots are grilled on Barbecues directly above the flame until the first peels are black (So, no need to rinse them). This one will be peeled, and then handing the Calçots by the green leaves, you can dip it in the Romesco Sauce and swallow it entirely.
The reccord is 3 kg 380. Who can do better?
Another way to prepare it is to cook them in your oven on a glass plate and oiled. Not the same burnt taste, but it is a cheap trick.
Romesco sauce is easy to find in supermarket all year around. The main ingredients are red peppers, tomatoes, garlic, fried bread, hazelnuts, almonds, olive oil and mellow wine.
You can find Calçotada in the streets, in parks (as in front of the Sagrada Cathedral), or in restaurants !


19th March
A really comon dessert does not make it one as normal dessert. Crema de Sant Josep, that everyone knows as the Catalan Cream or Burned Cream, is a sweet ‘yoghurt’ with a starch basis and caramelized on the top. It is easy to order in restaurants, to buy it in supermarkets or to eat it inside one of the Churrerías from the Petritxol street for less than 5 euros.
Originally, this dessert marks the begining of Spring and was made for the Sant Josep’s celebration on March, 19th. The basis of the cream is also included in some other pastries like the Tortell.

Traditional days in Barcelona Sant Josep's day Catalan Cream
Catalan Cream


On Easter Monday, tradition is that the godfather offers the Mona de Pascua to his nephew.
If you want to taste this brioche-like pastry without waiting for a godfather to appear, you can find this delicious cake in any bakeries of the city.
There is one or more egg(s) over it. Generaly it is a chocolate egg (which is better when you think the traditional boiled eggs could stay 2 days in ambient Temperature) and you can also find pieces of art work in some bakery where the mona is elaborated such as you are obligated to awe.

Mona De Pascua
Mona De Pascua

23rd of June

The Sant Joan’s eve is not a day like others. It’s the most beautiful one or the most terrific one. It depends if you like the fireworks or not. This day is celebrating the same Solstice of Summer than the other European countries.
Friends are gathering in one place to have a funny dinner and then go to the street to fire the fireworks (The place-to-be to party is the Barceloneta/PobleNou beaches)
This is the chance to taste la Coca de Sant Joan. Hard or soft, this cake is a long piece of pastry covered by candied fruit, pine nuts and breaded sugar. As the other pastries, it could be find in bakeries or in supermarkets with any ranges of prices.

Coca de Sant Joan
Coca de Sant Joan

31st October, 1st November My favorite day is the strangest : Tots Sants (or the famous day after Halloween). In Catalonia, it is the day to clean the graves (Vicky Christina’s movie has a scene about it) and also the day to eat a lot of gorgeous things:

  • First, the chestnuts ! Or the Castanyada. In oven, on a frying pan, from the street shops, there is a full of opportunities to crunch the Fall’s fruit by excellence. It can be associated with Sweet potatoes (Boniato) that have been cooked in the oven, wrapped in Aluminium foil. The trick is to wait for the potatoes to be soft when touching them.
  • And to end with the best: Panellets.
    These little balls are made from a Marzipan dough (a mix of almond, sugar, sweet potatoes and egg white). The dough is done the day before, and the final biscuits are cooked on the 1st of November.
    You will see a lot of them, having different types in bakeries. The most comon are Panellets d’ametlles (almonds), Panellets de pinyons (pine nuts) and Panellets de coco. Quite expensive because of the almonds, it is a must-to-try if you are not allergic to almonds.
Panellets with Pine nuts
Panellets with Pine nuts

25th/26th December
To conclude with this article about traditional days in Barcelona let’s talk about Christmas. As the 19th of March, two meals are very traditional though it could be enjoyed besides the 25th and 26th of December.

  • The healthier is the Sopa de Galets. It is a brew made from the water having cooked 4 pieces of meats ( the 4 Evangelists) and seven kind of vegetables (the seven Sacraments) that are making the Escudella i Carn d’Olla. Slighty tasty from the flavours, pasta in snails-shape are added. Sometimes, the pasta could be stuffed with meat. They are then Galets con pilota. This light recipe is the first plate of the Christmas’s meal.
  • The second one is heavier : the cannellonis (Cañelones). No need to describe it, everyone knows those stuffed ravioli-like pasta. It was introduced in Barcelona at the begining of the XXe century and has entered in the tradition to be eaten the 26th, day of the Sant Esteve, day to prepare a meal from the Christmas’ leftovers for all the family that pays a visit.

    Sopa de Galets
    Sopa de Galets


This list is not perfect but I hope it can help you with the discovering of Catalunia ! For most of the tradition food, you can always try to cook it following a recipe from

Pictures are accredited to the recipe inside this Catalan blog :

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