Pa amb tomàquet

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Pa amb tomàquet (Catalan pronunciation: [ˌpam tuˈmakət]; literally bread with tomato in Catalan) is a typical preparation of Catalan cuisine, that consists of bread — optionally toasted — with tomato rubbed over and seasoned with olive oil and salt. Sometimes garlic is rubbed on the bread before rubbing in the tomato. In many Catalan restaurants, the tomato mixture is pre-made and is brushed on the bread. The dish is served accompanied with any sorts of sausages (cured botifarres, xoriço, fuet, etc.), ham, cheeses, anchovies or other marinated fish, or grilled vegetables like escalivada.

The original base used to be made with toasted slices of pa de pagès (peasants' bread), a typical round piece of wheat bread of a fair size (from ½ kg to 5 kg, from some 20 cm to 50 cm in diameter).

If the mixture is not premade, there is said to be an ideal order in which the ingredients are integrated to yield the best flavour. First, the garlic is rubbed on the bread. Then the same is done with the tomato. Next comes the salt, and lastly the olive oil. The traditional way to get all the flavours mixed well without having to premake a sauce, is to cut off the heel of a baguette and use it to gently but firmly press all of the ingredients together.

History

The origin of this dish is disputed, as tomato is relatively new to Catalan cuisine (it came from America only after the 15th century). Widely regarded as the epitome of Catalan cuisine and identity, some sources claim it is actually a relatively recent (mid to late 19th century) in all the Mediterranean coast of Spain. One folklore theory attributes it to moments of famine during the Spanish Civil War, when little other than tomatoes were available to spice up and moisten old, dried bread.

The dish shares some similarities with the tomato and olive oil rubbed Ħobż biz-Zejt sandwich of the island of Malta, with the Pan-bagnat of Nice, in the Provence region of France and the tomato topped version of Italian bruschetta.

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