Pa amb tomàquet: Catalan tomato bread

Now, now, don´t you all start grumbling. I know what you´re going to say. Where does she get off, telling us how to rub tomato on a piece of bread? And, also, that´s some nerve, writing about Catalan tomato bread from enemy territory. Madrid, no less!
Well, you´ll have to forgive me. And catalanes won´t mind, I´m sure. Intercity and sporting rivalry nonwithstanding, even the most diehard madrileño will admit that when it comes to bread and tomatoes, they´re the best. We´ll argue Gaudí, and the beach, and the football, but not the pantumaca.
I learnt how to make pa amb tomàquet in Florence, Italy. Silly, no? I was doing a watercolour course there, and the school arranged accomodation with us. By chance, one of our flatmates was from Barcelona. She it was who initiated me.
I´d spend every morning going to all the galleries and the churches, trying to not wilt in the humid heat, and the afternoon drawing. Our evening ritual was to sit chatting in the shady garden and go through whole bags of tomatoes.
In Sevilla, where I lived then, toast with tomato is made by dousing a piece of bread with olive oil, topping it with slices of tomato, and sprinkling some salt.
The Catalan way is different.It only works with the best, ripest summer tomatoes, so don´t even bother otherwise. And yes, go right ahead and rub garlic first if you like. I think that calls for prior negotiations with everyone in the house, but each to their own.
So, what happens is, the tomato is cut in half , squeezed to let excess juice out, and then rubbed on the bread. Then, and listen up, because I found this pretty strange, you sprinkle the salt. And only at the end do you pour a trickle of olive oil on top. This way, the bread soaks up mostly tomato juice, the salt is quickly absorbed by the tomato, and the little oil sits on top, making all look glossy and beautiful. It´s healthier, and well in keeping with the Catalan tradition of thrift and good graphic design.
Marta, my friend from Barna, who will be on the receiving end of any indignant emails from her native land, also taught me the cheat´s method.
You take the tomatoes, cut them in two, grate them so that you just have pulp in a bowl. Then you salt and oil that, and put it on a table with the bread. People just spread the tomato when they want the bread, and it doesn´t go soggy. With a tortilla, or some jamón or caña de lomo, or tuna, it´s the perfect food for watching a Madrid-Barça match.
And if you´re thinking I´m going to say may the best team win, you´re outta your mind.

17 comentarios:

Raquel dijo...

That´s the way, tará, tará I liiiike it! tara, tará!! (and my breakfast (no garlic) every day)

Pille dijo...

That sounds really good. Now I just need to think which bread to use, and wait for those tomatoes to ripen :)

Julie dijo...

You're so right that it all comes down to the tomato. I love this dish, but I never have it because the fruit never seems up to snuff anymore. I need an Italian summer to restore my faith in tomatoes...if only:)

Anónimo dijo...

Love this. I got introduced to it by my Barcelonan boyfriend. His mother would buy these special tomatoes for it - horrible to eat plain as they have hard skins but very good for pa amb tomàquet. Have you seen this book? It covers bread and oil culture in Mallorca but also spends a little time on bread and tomato.

Anónimo dijo...

Oh Ximena, You are bring back such delicious (and recent) memories of my trip to Spain. I am waiting anxiously for the first tomatoes to ripen in m little garden so I can make this. I am even going to grill the toast, "a la Espana"!! I atempted to make pisto, but the recipe I had was no good and didn't taste as good as what I ate in Madrid.
Hope you are well,

xps dijo...

Si. Es muy muy rico. Y el tomate del dibujo inmejorable.

Anónimo dijo...

I love this! I learned to make pa amb tomaquet from my godmother who lives in Barcelona. Such a great way to have bread no? :) I must admit, I like mine a wee bit soggy...heehee :)

Inne dijo...

you're soooooo lucky to have really good, juicy and sweet tomatoes in the South of Europe!

Rosa dijo...

Aaah, proof once again that the simplest things are the best. Though your previous posts do have me tempted to buy a Thermomix!

Marona dijo...

Ningún catalán que conozco lo podría haber explicado mejor!

lobstersquad dijo...

guru: ole ole. me too, early in the morning
pille: couldn´t find anything better for the tomatoes
julie: well, with inferior tomatoes you can do it the normal rest-of-spain way
su-lyn: that book looks great, thanks!
heather: while the tomatoes ripen, I have a pretty good recipe for pisto from last year, you can find it in the spanish food label
xps: gracias, maja
joey: soggy can be good if the tomatoes are good, you´re right
inne: yes, well, we can´t have your lovely summers, but at least we have the veg
rosa: buy it! won´t regret it
marona: gracias, tenía un poco de estrés de que nadie me confirmara desde ahí.bs

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) dijo...

Tomato bread sounds wonderful! And this is prime tomato season in Rhode Island -- we have waited for months for the tomatoes to ripen, and they are just starting to come in. Thanks for posting about this.

Anónimo dijo...

Yes, it's right of you to sing pa amb tomauqet's praises. The only thing it's missing is the bacon :) But I suppose we can make concessions for luscious tomatoes and good bread, no?h

christine dijo...

Sounds deliciously easy! Have had tomato and olive oil and sea salt on bread but sliced, never rubbed. THanks for the tip. :)

Unknown dijo...

I love the cheat, it sounds simple and delicious! Hope your seaside holiday is lovely.

caroline dijo...

Ok. I might be 3 years too late but I saw locals in Mallorca eating their bread this way on a traveling TV show today and I was instantly craving it. It sounds good. The locals they filmed ended up putting a hunk of cheese and hunk of some sort of meat. Looked so good.

Tafino dijo...

you can see photos samples of how to do it here:http://www.tafino.net/story/olive-oil-bread-perfect-appetizer