Cities in the Spotlight: Barcelona, Spain
Today we will be again traveling to Europe. This time we will be heading to Barcelona, Spain.
Barcelona City Information
Barcelona is a city on the coast of northeastern Spain. It is the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Catalonia, as well as the second most populous municipality of Spain. With a population of 1.6 million within city limits, its urban area extends to numerous neighbouring municipalities within the Province of Barcelona and is home to around 4.8 million people, making it the fifth most populous urban area in the European Union after Paris, the Ruhr area, Madrid, and Milan. It is one of the largest metropolises on the Mediterranean Sea, located on the coast between the mouths of the rivers Llobregat and Besòs, and bounded to the west by the Serra de Collserola mountain range.
Barcelona has a rich cultural heritage and is today an important cultural centre and a major tourist destination. Particularly renowned are the architectural works of Antoni Gaudí and Lluís Domènech i Montaner, which have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The city is home to two of the most prestigious universities in Spain: the University of Barcelona and Pompeu Fabra University. The headquarters of the Union for the Mediterranean are located in Barcelona. The city is known for hosting the 1992 Summer Olympics as well as world-class conferences and expositions and also many international sport tournaments. Barcelona is a major cultural, economic, and financial centre in southwestern Europe, as well as the main biotech hub in Spain. As a leading world city, Barcelona's influence in global socio-economic affairs qualifies it for global city status (Beta +). Barcelona is a transport hub, with the Port of Barcelona being one of Europe's principal seaports and busiest European passenger port, an international airport, Barcelona–El Prat Airport, which handles over 50 million passengers per year, an extensive motorway network, and a high-speed rail line with a link to France and the rest of Europe.
Barcelona Historical Significance
The origin of the earliest settlement at the site of present-day Barcelona is unclear. The ruins of an early settlement have been found, including different tombs and dwellings dating to earlier than 5000 BC. The founding of Barcelona is the subject of two different legends. The first attributes the founding of the city to the mythological Hercules. The second legend attributes the foundation of the city directly to the historical Carthaginian general, Hamilcar Barca, father of Hannibal, who supposedly named the city Barcino after his family in the 3rd century BC, but there is no historical or linguistic evidence that this is true. Archaeological evidence in the form of coins from the 3rd Century BC has been found on the hills at the foot of Montjuïc with the name Bárkeno written in an ancient script in the Iberian language. Thus, we can conclude that the Laietani, an ancient Iberian (Pre-Roman) people of the Iberian peninsula, who inhabited the area occupied by the city of Barcelona around 3 – 2 BC, called the area Bàrkeno, which means "The Place of the Plains" (Barrke = plains/terrace).
In about 15 BC, the Romans redrew the town as a castrum (Roman military camp) centred on the "Mons Taber", a little hill near the Generalitat (Catalan Government) and city hall buildings. The Roman Forum, at the crossing of the Cardo Maximus and Decumanus Maximus, was approximately placed where current Plaça de Sant Jaume is. Thus, the political center of the city, Catalonia, and its domains has remained in the same place for over 2,000 years. Under the Romans, it was a colony with the surname of Faventia, or, in full, Colonia Faventia Julia Augusta Pia Barcino or Colonia Julia Augusta Faventia Paterna Barcino. Pomponius Mela mentions it among the small towns of the district, probably as it was eclipsed by its neighbour Tarraco (modern Tarragona), but it may be gathered from later writers that it gradually grew in wealth and consequence, favoured as it was with a beautiful situation and an excellent harbour. It enjoyed immunity from imperial burdens. The city minted its own coins; some from the era of Galba survive.
Important Roman vestiges are displayed in Plaça del Rei underground, as a part of the Barcelona City History Museum (MUHBA); the typically Roman grid plan is still visible today in the layout of the historical centre, the Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter). Some remaining fragments of the Roman walls have been incorporated into the cathedral. The cathedral, Catedral Basílica Metropolitana de Barcelona, is also sometimes called La Seu, which simply means cathedral (and see, among other things) in Catalan. It is said to have been founded in 343. The city was conquered by the Visigoths in the early 5th century, becoming for a few years the capital of all Hispania. After being conquered by the Arabs in the early 8th century, it was conquered after a siege in 801 by Charlemagne's son Louis, who made Barcelona the seat of the Carolingian "Hispanic March" (Marca Hispanica), a buffer zone ruled by the Count of Barcelona.
The Counts of Barcelona became increasingly independent and expanded their territory to include much of modern Catalonia, although on 6 July 985, Barcelona was sacked by the army of Almanzor. The sack was so traumatic that most of Barcelona's population was either killed or enslaved. In 1137, Aragon and the County of Barcelona merged in dynastic union by the marriage of Ramon Berenguer IV and Petronilla of Aragon, their titles finally borne by only one person when their son Alfonso II of Aragon ascended to the throne in 1162. His territories were later to be known as the Crown of Aragon, which conquered many overseas possessions and ruled the western Mediterranean Sea with outlying territories in Naples and Sicily and as far as Athens in the 13th century.
Barcelona was the leading slave trade centre of the Crown of Aragon up until the 15th century, when it was eclipsed by Valencia. It initially fed from eastern and balkan slave stock later drawing from a Maghribian and, ultimately, Subsaharan pool of slaves. The Bank of Barcelona or Taula de canvi, often viewed as the oldest public bank in Europe, was established by the city magistrates in 1401. It originated from necessities of the state, as did the Bank of Venice (1402) and the Bank of Genoa (1407). The marriage of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile in 1469 united the two royal lines. Madrid became the centre of political power whilst the colonisation of the Americas reduced the financial importance (at least in relative terms) of Mediterranean trade. Barcelona was a centre of Catalan separatism, including the Catalan Revolt (1640–52) against Philip IV of Spain. The great plague of 1650–1654 halved the city's population.
In the 18th century, a fortress was built at Montjuïc that overlooked the harbour. In 1794, this fortress was used by the French astronomer Pierre François André Méchain for observations relating to a survey stretching to Dunkirk that provided the official basis of the measurement of a metre. The definitive metre bar, manufactured from platinum, was presented to the French legislative assembly on 22 June 1799. Much of Barcelona was negatively affected by the Napoleonic wars, but the start of industrialization saw the fortunes of the province improve.
During the Spanish Civil War, the city, and Catalonia in general, were resolutely Republican. Many enterprises and public services were collectivised by the CNT and UGT unions. As the power of the Republican government and the Generalitat diminished, much of the city was under the effective control of anarchist groups. The anarchists lost control of the city to their own allies, the Communists and official government troops, after the street fighting of the Barcelona May Days. The fall of the city on 26 January 1939, caused a mass exodus of civilians who fled to the French border. The resistance of Barcelona to Franco's coup d'état was to have lasting effects after the defeat of the Republican government. The autonomous institutions of Catalonia were abolished, and the use of the Catalan language in public life was suppressed. Barcelona remained the second largest city in Spain, at the heart of a region which was relatively industrialised and prosperous, despite the devastation of the civil war. The result was large-scale immigration from poorer regions of Spain (particularly Andalusia, Murcia and Galicia), which in turn led to rapid urbanisation.
In 1992, Barcelona hosted the Summer Olympics. The after-effects of this are credited with driving major changes in what had, up until then, been a largely industrial city. As part of the preparation for the games, industrial buildings along the sea-front were demolished and 3 kilometres (2 miles) of beach were created. New construction increased the road capacity of the city by 17%, the sewage handling capacity by 27% and the amount of new green areas and beaches by 78%. Between 1990 and 2004, the number of hotel rooms in the city doubled. Perhaps more importantly, the outside perception of the city was changed making, by 2012, Barcelona the 12th most popular city destination in the world and the 5th amongst European cities.
The death of Franco in 1975 brought on a period of democratisation throughout Spain. Pressure for change was particularly strong in Barcelona, which considered that it had been punished during nearly forty years of Francoism for its support of the Republican government. Massive, but peaceful, demonstrations on 11 September 1977 assembled over a million people in the streets of Barcelona to call for the restoration of Catalan autonomy. It was granted less than a month later. The development of Barcelona was promoted by two events in 1986: Spanish accession to the European Community, and particularly Barcelona's designation as host city of the 1992 Summer Olympics. The process of urban regeneration has been rapid, and accompanied by a greatly increased international reputation of the city as a tourist destination. The increased cost of housing has led to a slight decline (−16.6%) in the population over the last two decades of the 20th century as many families move out into the suburbs. This decline has been reversed since 2001, as a new wave of immigration (particularly from Latin America and from Morocco) has gathered pace.
In 1987, an ETA car bombing at Hipercor killed 21 people. On 17 August 2017, a van was driven into pedestrians on La Rambla, killing 14 and injuring at least 100, one of whom later died. Other attacks took place elsewhere in Catalonia. The Prime Minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy, called the attack in Barcelona a jihadist attack. Amaq News Agency attributed indirect responsibility for the attack to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). During the 2010s, Barcelona became the focus city for the ongoing Catalan independence movement, its consequent standoff between the regional and national government and later protests.
Travel to Barcelona
*taken from Lonely Planet*
Barcelona is an enchanting seaside city with boundless culture, fabled architecture and a world-class drinking and dining scene.
Must See Sites
La Sagrada Familia; The Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family) is considered to be the symbol of Barcelona by many residents, and the one place you shouldn’t miss when you visit the Catalan capital. Initially intended to be a simple Roman Catholic church dedicated to Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the church ultimately became the most prominent example of Catalan Modernism. Pope Benedict XVI declared it a basilica in 2010. Dreamed up by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, the basilica exemplifies Gaudí’s philosophy that nature is the work of God. Gaudí sought to combine Christian speech and biblical allegories with complex natural symbols like organic, geometric shapes which are prominent in every column, pinnacle and stained glass window of the basilica. The end result is an astounding architectural masterpiece which, despite being unfinished and under construction for nearly 140 years, has become one of the most visited monuments in Spain, receiving 4.7 million visitors in 2019. The temple suffered heavy damage during Spain’s Civil War (1936-39), when a group of anarchists set it on fire, burning a significant part of Gaudí’s workshop. Fortunately, part of his material could be restored. Work resumed in 1954 and it’s been under construction ever since. The Sagrada Família was expected to be completed in 2026 - for the centenary of Gaudí’s death – but its completion has been postponed because of COVID-19. Work has resumed already but a new completion date hasn’t been announced.
Park Güell; Visitors and locals alike love Park Güell. The waving balcony and the colorful Guard’s House, with the imposing Barcelona skyline and sea in the background, is the city’s favorite postcard. It's also a great summary of what the Catalan capital is like: a creative, cosmopolitan city with a Mediterranean lifestyle. Antoni Gaudí created Park Güell, an architectural masterpiece, with tree-shaped columns and undulating forms that merge in perfect harmony. The colors of the broken tile mosaics that cover the surface of the distinct elements is an unprecedented technique of Gaudí that makes the astonishing shapes come to life. It was also built in the middle of the city atop a hill, hence it is blessed with some of the best views in Barcelona. Park Güell is one of the outstanding examples of Catalan Modernism and an unmissable destination for anyone visiting Barcelona.
Museu Picasso; Located along the grand, medieval street of Carrer de Montcada, the Museu Picasso is dedicated to one of the world’s greatest artists, Pablo Picasso. Born in the Andalusian city of Málaga in 1881, Picasso moved to Barcelona at age 14, where he spent his adolescence, youth and formative years with his family. Opened in 1963, the “Picasso Museum” not only showcases some of the painter’s earliest works, but it aims to show the strong, emotional bond Picasso had with the city, which was key in discovering, developing and shaping his artistic skills. The museum occupies five Medieval palaces, providing an immense setting for visitors to take in the 4000 or so original works on display.
La Rambla; La Rambla is a tree-lined boulevard featuring a wide array of architectural delights, beautifully decorated flower stalls and particularly talented (and certified) human statues. Foodies will definitely enjoy the tapa joints at Mercat de la Boqueria, considered by many to be the best gourmet food market in Europe. It is infamous for the incredible numbers of both pickpockets and tourist-first restaurants serving mediocre paella, but there is plenty to see and appreicate. Linking Plaça de Catalunya, the central square in Barcelona, with the old harbor, strolling La Rambla, or ramblejar, as the local people say, while admiring the imposing facades and doing some people watching, is something everyone should experience when visiting Barcelona.
La Pedrera; In the top tier of Gaudí's achievements, this madcap Unesco-listed masterpiece, with 33 balconies, was built in 1905–10 as a combined apartment and office block. Formally called Casa Milà, after the businessman who commissioned it, it is better known as La Pedrera (the Quarry) because of its uneven grey stone facade, which ripples around the corner of Carrer de Provença. Gaudí's approach to space and light as well as the blurring of the dividing line between decoration and functionality are astounding. When commissioned to design this apartment building, Gaudí wanted to top anything else done in L’Eixample. Pere Milà had married the older and far richer Roser Guardiola, the widow of Josep Guardiola, and clearly knew how to spend his new wife's money. Milà was one of the city’s first car owners and Gaudí built parking space into this building, itself a first. The natural world was one of the most enduring influences on Gaudí’s work, and the building's undulating grey-stone facade evokes a cliff-face sculpted by waves and wind. The wave effect is emphasised by elaborate wrought-iron balconies that bring to mind seaweed washed up on the shore. The lasting impression is of a building on the verge of motion – a living building.
Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya; The spectacular neobaroque silhouette of the Palau Nacional can be seen on Montjuïc's slopes from across the city. Built for the 1929 World Exhibition and restored in 2005, it houses a vast collection of mostly Catalan art spanning the early Middle Ages to the early 20th century. The high point is the unique collection of extraordinary Romanesque frescoes. This building has come to be one of the city’s prime symbols of the region’s separate Catalan identity, but the fact that it was constructed under the centralist dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera lends a whiff of irony. The real highlight here is the Romanesque art section, considered the most important concentration of early medieval art in the world. Rescued from neglected country churches across northern Catalonia in the early 20th century, the collection consists of 21 frescoes, woodcarvings and painted altar frontals (low-relief wooden panels that were the forerunners of the elaborate altarpieces that adorned later churches). The insides of several churches have been recreated and the frescoes – in some cases fragmentary, in others extraordinarily complete and alive with colour – have been placed as they were when in situ. The two most striking fresco sets follow one after the other. The first, in Sala 5, is a magnificent image of Christ in Majesty created around 1123. Based on the text of the Apocalypse, we see Christ enthroned on a rainbow with the world at his feet. He holds a book open with the words Ego Sum Lux Mundi (I am the Light of the World) and is surrounded by the four Evangelists. The images were taken from the apse of the Església de Sant Climent de Taüll in northwest Catalonia. Nearby in Sala 9 are frescoes done around the same time in the nearby Església de Santa Maria de Taüll. This time the central image taken from the apse is of the Virgin Mary and Christ Child. These images were not mere decoration but tools of instruction in the basics of Christian faith for the local population – try to set yourself in the mind of the average medieval citizen: illiterate, ignorant, fearful and in most cases eking out a subsistence living. These images transmitted the basic personalities and tenets of the faith and were accepted at face value by most.
La Catedral; Barcelona’s central place of worship presents a magnificent image. The richly decorated main facade, dotted with gargoyles and the kinds of stone intricacies you would expect of northern European Gothic, sets it quite apart from other Barcelona churches. The facade was actually added from 1887 to 1890. The rest of the building dates to between 1298 and 1460. Its other facades are sparse in decoration, and the octagonal, flat-roofed towers are a clear reminder that, even here, Catalan Gothic architectural principles prevailed. The interior is a broad, soaring space divided into a central nave and two aisles by lines of elegant, slim pillars. The cathedral was one of the few churches in Barcelona spared by the anarchists in the civil war, so its ornamentation, never overly lavish, is intact. In the first chapel (for prayer only) on the right from the main northwest entrance, the main crucifixion figure above the altar is Sant Crist de Lepant; it is said Don Juan’s flagship bore it into battle at Lepanto and that the figure acquired its odd stance by dodging an incoming cannonball. Further along this same wall, past the southwest transept, are the wooden coffins of Count Ramon Berenguer I and his wife Almodis, founders of the 11th-century Romanesque predecessor to the present cathedral. Left from the main entrance is a 1433 marble baptismal font where, according to one story, six native North Americans brought to Europe by Columbus after his first voyage to the Americas were bathed in holy water. In the middle of the central nave is the exquisitely sculpted late 14th-century timber coro (choir stalls; closed during worshipping hours). The coats of arms on the stalls belong to members of the Barcelona chapter of the Order of the Golden Fleece. Emperor Carlos V presided over the order’s meeting here in 1519. Take the time to look at the artisanship up close – the Virgin Mary and Child depicted on the pulpit are especially fine. A broad staircase before the main altar leads you down to the crypt, which contains the 14th-century tomb of Santa Eulàlia, one of Barcelona’s two patron saints and more affectionately known as Laia. The reliefs on the alabaster sarcophagus, executed by Pisan artisans, recount some of her tortures and, along the top strip, the removal of her body to its present resting place.
Museu d’Història de Barcelona; One of Barcelona's most fascinating museums travels back through the centuries to the very foundations of Roman Barcino. You'll stroll over ruins of the old streets, sewers, laundries, baths and wine- and fish-making factories that flourished here following the town's founding by Emperor Augustus around 10 BCE. Equally impressive is the building itself, which was once part of the Palau Reial Major (Grand Royal Palace) on Plaça del Rei, among the key locations of medieval princely power in Barcelona. Enter through the 16th-century Casa Padellàs, just south of Plaça del Rei. Originally built for a noble family on Carrer dels Mercaders, the grand home was moved here, stone by stone, in the 1930s. It has a courtyard typical of Barcelona’s late-Gothic and baroque mansions, with a graceful external staircase up to the 1st floor. Today it leads to a restored Roman tower and a section of Roman wall (whose exterior faces Plaça Ramon de Berenguer el Gran), as well as a section of the house set aside for temporary exhibitions. Below ground, under Plaça del Rei, lies a remarkable walk through 4 sq km of excavated Roman and Visigothic Barcelona. After a display on the typical Roman domus (villa), with mosaics and murals, you reach a public laundry, then pass dyeing shops, more laundries, fish-preserve stores, a 6th-century public cold-water bath and, as you hit the Cardo Minor (a main street), a factory dedicated to the making of garum (a popular paste across the Roman Empire, made of mashed-up fish intestines, eggs and blood).
Must Try Food & Drink
Bacallà a la llauna; Bacallà a la llauna is a traditional Spanish fish dish originating from Barcelona and dating back to the 19th century. The dish is made with a combination of salt cod, flour, garlic, paprika or pimentón, parsley, and olive oil. The salt cod is desalted, drained, dried, and the fillets are then dredged in flour and fried in olive oil until golden and not falling apart. The garlic is sautéed in oil, and the paprika or pimentón is then fried in the same oil. Both are spooned over the fish and the dish is placed in a llauna – a rectangular pan with low and straight sides (alternatively, use a roasting pan or a rimmed baking sheet). The dish is baked for a few minutes and then served immediately with chopped parsley and the garlicky sauce spooned over it.
Bocadillos; Bocadillos or bocatas are Spanish sandwiches made with Spanish-style baguettes known as barra de pan, unlike regular sandwiches which are made with modern white bread, known as pan de molde in Spain. The most common fillings for bocadillos include meat, cheese, tuna, omelets, jamón, or chorizo sausages. The Spanish typically don't add onions, mayonnaise, pickles, or lettuce to bocadillos, but the bread is sometimes rubbed with halved tomatoes or olive oil. Due to the popularity of these sandwiches, the fillings vary from one region to another – omelet bocadillos are usually eaten for breakfast or as an afternoon snack and include eggs, cheese, beans, peppers, and potatoes; meat-based bocadillos are often made with chicken, beef, pork, horse, or goat; and fish bocadillos often include cuttlefish, sardines, and squid. These sandwiches can be found everywhere from bars and taverns to roadside eateries, but you probably won't find one on a restaurant menu.
Paella; Widely acclaimed as the most popular Spanish dish, paella is a one-pot specialty that is based on saffron-flavored rice, while the additional ingredients may include meat, seafood, or vegetables. Although paella originated in Valencia, where it was made with seasonal vegetables, poultry, rabbit, and snails, in modern-day Spain, the name is used for all rice dishes prepared in a paellera or paella - the traditional shallow pan that is used both for cooking and serving. Paella has humble origins—it most likely originated around Albufera lagoon, an area known for its rice fields and wildlife, where it was made with locally-sourced ingredients. The exact ingredients used in paella have long been a matter of dispute, but everyone agrees that each paella should have a subtle saffron flavor. Another crucial element is socorrat, the crispy bottom layer, and the mandatory finishing touch of each paella. Because paella is prepared in a wide, shallow pan, the rice is evenly cooked in a thin layer, allowing the grains to caramelize and become crispy. Socorrat is such an essential element that it is even one of the categories at the Valencian paella competition. Always served in the pan, this Spanish classic can be found everywhere in the country, in an endless number of combinations. It should be noted that modern-day restaurant interpretations are often mass-produced and can significantly diverge from the authentic versions that demand time and skill. Traditionally, paellas are cooked over an open fire, and the most common option is to use orange wood.
Churros; Elongated, crispy, crunchy and intensely fragrant, churros consist of deep-fried yeast dough encrusted with sugar. Although some may argue against consuming these sweet treats, warning others about the dangerous effects of sugar and fat on human bodies, the popularity of churros throughout the world doesn't seem to wane. Originally invented by Spanish shepherds who could easily cook them in a pan over an open fire, today these unusually shaped, cinnamon sugar sprinkled twists are most commonly eaten in Spain and Latin America as a hot breakfast food, accompanied by a strong cup of coffee or a cup of thick hot chocolate. Their characteristical shape is achieved by pressing the dough through plastic tubes so it emerges on the other side in thin, ridged ropes. Although churros are a Madrid specialty, the ones found in Seville are often praised because they differ in a lighter and more delicate texture. In Cuba, they may be filled with guava, in Mexico with dulce de leche, and in Uruguay with cheese. Regardless of the varieties, churros are an indulgence that must be tried at least once.
Crema Catalana; Crema Catalana is a popular Spanish dessert made by baking a custard consisting of milk, cornstarch, and eggs in an oven. After baking and cooling, the dessert is sprinkled with sugar and broiled or burnt with a torch to create a crispy, burnt caramel top layer. Sometimes, crema Catalana may be flavored with cinnamon, lemon, or orange zest. The dessert is also known as Crema de Sant Josep, since it is traditionally prepared on March 19, celebrating the saint. It is also the oldest European custard dessert, dating back to the 14th century. Crema Catalana has such a distinctive flavor that it is often used in the preparation of other desserts such as ice cream and torró, a nougat-like sweet.
Patatas bravas; Patatas bravas is a traditional tapas dish consisting of potato cubes drenched in a spicy tomato sauce with onions, garlic, chili powder, and paprika. This flavorful combination of ingredients is a staple at numerous tapa bars throughout Spain, and it is especially popular as a late-night snack. The dish is traditionally served with aioli sauce on top, but there is also a variety of other toppings that can be ordered with the snack, such as chorizo slices or fried fish.
Escalivada; Escalivada is one of the most famous dishes from the Catalonia region of Spain, but it is also one of the simplest. The main ingredients include eggplants, bell peppers, and sometimes onions and tomatoes, typically grilled whole over hot embers. The vegetables are then peeled, seeded, seasoned, and served as appetizers or side dishes, accompanying numerous roasted or grilled meat dishes and complementing each other. The name of the dish is derived from the word escalivar, meaning to roast over embers, to grill, or to roast in ashes. It is believed that the first escalivada was prepared by farmers from the Pyrenees mountains, who would prepare the meal while the cattle was out on the pastures. Although escalivada is nowadays served mostly as a side dish, it can also be served as tapas, a warm salad, or as an accompaniment to fish dishes.
Montadito; Montaditos are open-faced sandwiches and an essential tapa in Spain. Although there is no set list of ingredients, montaditos are always made with bread slices, typically from a thin elongated bread similar to a baguette. The toppings are incredibly versatile and may include anything from smoked meat, chorizo sausages, jamóns, various types of cheese, pickled vegetables, anchovies, as well as other types of seafood. The combinations are seemingly endless, and there are no set rules which toppings to use and how to combine them. It is believed that montaditos were the first type of sandwiches in Spain, dating back to fifteen or sixteenth century. The name montadito is believed to stem from the word montar, meaning to mount—as a reference to all the toppings that are mounted on top of each bread slice.
Empanadas; Best described as little pockets with hot fillings; empanadas are crescent-shaped, flaky pastry dough pies found throughout Latin America that are easy to prepare, inexpensive, and convenient. The name of the dish stems from the Spanish empanar, which literally translates to covered with bread or breaded. Empanadas are likely to have originated from Galicia, Spain, where they were prepared as a portable and filling meal for working people, providing energy and nutrients needed for a day of hard labor. Baked and fried until golden, they are usually filled with a variety of spiced meats and vegetables, depending on regional preferences. In Mexico, cornmeal flour and minilla (a spicy combination of chilis, olives, capers, and shark meat) is the most popular filling. In Chile, it is clams, mussels, and scallops, and in Bolivia, the filling consists of potatoes and eggs - in spicy or mild versions of the dish. Spain is famous for its empanada gallega, filled with a stew-like combination of pork or tuna and peppers. However, Argentina is considered by many to be the best place for empanada lovers worldwide, and they can be found everywhere - from street-food carts and local bakeries to fancy restaurants. Argentinian empanadas are rarely (almost never) eaten for breakfast. There are also sweet varieties of the dish, filled with dulce de leche or fresh pineapple cubes. A true international dish in every sense of the word, empanadas are so popular that there is even a Latin American Empanada Festival, celebrated each September in the Tucumán province in Argentina.
Buñuelo; Deep-fried, golden, and crispy buñuelos are an original Spanish creation that has become an internationally popular treat. In the simplest form, these fritters are created with milk, eggs, butter, and flour into a dough which is usually shaped into balls, then deep-fried. They were first made by the Sephardic Jews inhabiting the Iberian Peninsula, and through colonization, they spread to Latin America, where they still represent a staple dish. Buñuelos are a popular Hannukah treat among Jewish communities, and in the predominantly Christian communities in Spain and Latin America, the fritters are traditionally made on All Saints Day and during the Christmas season. Today, there are numerous varieties of these oily snacks: in Columbia, grated cheese is incorporated into the dough, and they are usually more savory than sweet, but commonly served with creamy desserts; while in Mexico, buñuelos are anise-flavored and flat in shape, usually dusted with sugar or drizzled with honey.
Rosquillas; Rosquillas are traditional Spanish deep-fried donuts, characterized by their fluffy texture and a hole in the middle. They are typically prepared during the Holy Week festivities. Although there are many varieties of rosquillas, the classic ones are prepared with a combination of eggs, sugar, milk, oil, lemon zest, flour, baking powder, and anisette, which imparts a unique flavor to these tasty donuts. Another classic variety of rosquillas is made with sweet muscat wine (moscatel), and those donuts are known as rosquillas de vino. After they have been deep-fried, rosquillas are typically served as a sweet snack, topped with cinnamon sugar. Interestingly, in Honduras, the rosquillas are made with corn masa and curd cheese, and they are not deep-fried but baked in the oven.