Since returning from our trip to Barcelona, David and I have been trying to recreate dishes and flavors that transport us back to the Mediterranean city. Particularly handy is the tomato bread recipe, which is simply bread rubbed with fresh tomatoes. As humble as it sounds, tomato bread, or pa amb tomàquet in Catalan, revolutionized our sandwich routine. It forms the foundation on which we build our sandwiches, and has become a treasured personal connection to one of our favorite cities in Europe.
We oftentimes think of traveling as just a physical act of moving from one place to another and seeing as many attractions as possible on the checklist, and fail to acknowledge that it is as much an action of the heart and spirit. By now details of the exact itinerary of our DIY five-week Europe tour last Fall have become a distant blur, but we know how we felt when we first saw Barcelona from the windows of our airport taxi. We may not be able to recall easily names of streets and restaurants we went to, but we remember clearly the emotions conjured up by being inside Antoni Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia.
My recollections of the Catalan capital consist mainly of patterns, shapes and silhouettes that exist on a delicate balance of contradictions and cohabitations: the seemingly accidental juxtaposition of avant-garde creations alongside mundane practicalities, and contemporary necessities that continually weave their way into the fabric of historical relics.
Like any great city, Barcelona is a living, breathing work in progress, an observation made even more pronounced by the ongoing construction of La Sagrada Familia, which started more than 130 years ago and is scheduled for completion in 2026.
Barcelona has become an acquaintance we’d like to stay in touch with, hopefully see again, spend more time with, and get to know better. 2026 sounds like a date. Till then, we have these photos, memories of the city, and a recipe for tomato bread.
Catalan Tomato Bread
Learned from a trip to Barcelona
Crusty rustic-style bread is preferred. Skip garlic if you dislike the taste or plan to put toppings that you think may clash in flavor. Do be generous with the tomatoes. After all, it is called “bread with tomato”.
Slices of bread
Extra virgin olive oil
Toast bread. Peel a garlic clove, cut off root end and rub cut side on bread. For a milder garlic taste, use roasted garlic. Slice tomatoes in half crosswise and rub cut side on bread. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Eat on its own, with your favorite toppings or as a base for your sandwiches. It’s that simple!