Catalan Cuisine becomes a brand name
Here at EatCatalunya we tend to speak of Catalan cuisine in broad strokes, with the term covering a broad terrain and leaving room for interpretation. But earlier this month the Catalan Institute of Cuisine Foundation (FICC) announced that the words “Cuina Catalana” will become a brand name and a distinction to be awarded to restaurants demonstrating loyalty to the traditional way of doing things in Catalan cooking. According to the ABC newspaper, the brand is kicking off with a few hundred restaurants — which “honor Catalan culinary heritage with their dishes” — to be the first to carry the Cuina Catalana brand name. ABC reports:
The establishments that wish to carry the ‘Cuina Catalana’ brand will have to base at least 40% of their dishes in the recipes of cookbook Corpus de la Cocina Catalana, edited by the Catalan Institute of Cuisine and written with the colloboration of professors, cooks, restaurant owners and chefs from all over Catalonia.
The dishes must be made using the maximum number of local and seasonal products possible, as well as traditional cooking techniques, or modern but not experimental ones, without exotic ingredients with unfamiliar names. On menus, the dishes that appear in the Corpus should be marked with the “C” [brand name]. elaborado con la colaboración de catedráticos, cocineros, restauradores y elaboradores de toda Cataluña.
It is also recommended that all of the member establishments work with products regulated by specific distinctions, such as D.O., protected geographical varieties, quality levels, among others.
While the move to make a distinction, via the brand name, between traditional and more experimental takes on Catalan cuisine could attract some controversy (particularly because of the now infamous duel between El Bulli’s uber experimental Ferrán Adría and Can Fabe’s ultra traditional Santi Santamaria…Santamaria’s words were: “I have an enormous conceptual and ethical divorce with Ferran; he and his team are going in a direction contrary to my principles”), as a proponent of extending knowledge and appreciation of Catalan cuisine, I think the basis is sound. The FICC says on its website that one of the objectives of the brand name is to “help consumers get to know what Catalan cuisine is” (also the primary goal of EatCatalunya), and you cannot do that without showing the cuisine in its purist form.
I personally applaud the initiative, though I enjoy experimental takes on Catalan cuisine as well. Who says the two things can’t coexist? But without the basics there would be nothing to experiment with.