You’ll see it everywhere in Barcelona, from workers munching on brick-sized bocatas (sandwiches) in the street to the baskets of stuff placed in front of you almost as soon as you sit down at a restaurant table. Pa amb tomàquet is the national dish in Catalunya – the meat to their potatoes if you like – and no other dish brings a tear to a Catalan’s eye quite like a humble piece of bread smeared in tomato pulp and then drizzled with olive oil.
Pa amb tomàquet is generally topped with cheese or charcuterie (at this point it is re-named a torrada). Do try something local, such as botifarra blanca, a tripe and port sausage, fuet, a think whip of sweet salami-type sausage or the wonderful or Iberian ham.
As for cheese, dryer, firmer varieties seem to work best (they soak up the olive oil) such as an aged manchego. Even salted anchovies (the best ones come from L’Escala on the Costa Brava) are delicious.
Whatever you choose, pa amb tomàquet should really be made with the best local ingredients; take a slice of rustic-style bread and toast it. Whilst still warm, rub a peeled clove of on one side.
Cut a ripe tomato in half (the small-ish crinkly ones you see sold on vines in the markets such as the Boqueria work best).
Drizzle with virgin olive oil, sprinkle with salt then add the topping and ya esta! You have an instant Catalan classic.