Anger at the NYT’s unconventional take on Catalonia’s staple food

"All wrong": social media users criticize recipe that adds tomato slices and cherry tomatoes

VilaWeb
Picture by Wikipedia / Jennifer Woodard Maderazo
VilaWeb / Catalan News Agency
16.09.2022 - 14:37
Actualització: 16.09.2022 - 14:40

“Most Catalan cooks simply cut the tomato crosswise and vigorously massage the toasted bread with the cut side,” the New York Times’s David Tanis wrote when describing how to make ‘pa amb tomàquet’ – or, as he said in Spanish, ‘pan con tomate’. However, according to Catalan Twitter, the newspaper built up a freestyle enhanced recipe and included a video of it that got the traditional Catalan dish “all wrong.”

Tanis’ unconventional take on Catalonia’s staple food was heavily criticized, and not only for changing the name to Spanish but also for getting “the whole process” wrong, Albert, an upset foodie, tweeted. “You deserve extinction”, he added, before asking the New York Times to “stop using Spanish for Catalan dishes, as locals do not need more cultural appropriation and minoritization.”

He was far from alone, with others simply declaring “Todo mal” (all wrong) regarding the recipe published on Friday. The step-by-step even suggests adding “tomato slices and cherry tomatoes.” One social media user even wrote: “Noooooo!,” sparking the vast majority of criticism.

The newspaper praised the way Catalans make ‘pa amb tomàquet’ by saying it is a “superior combination that comes from Barcelona,” writer David Tanis explained, ignoring the fact that it is eaten all across Catalonia and not only in its capital.  However, he then continued by stating that some “grate the tomato flesh and spoon it over the bread” –  sacrilege according to local foodie puritans.

As was to be expected, the first place Catalans spoke out against the recipe was on social media, where some even wondered where they could “file a complaint.” Just to show the importance of the aberration, another Twitter user suggested The New York Times’ take was akin to “telling an American you can microwave your turkey for Thanksgiving.” Another user called Domènech warned Tanis “not to approach less than 500 miles to Catalonia: That’s the range of our missiles ready to hit those who prepare this sort of ungodly ‘pa amb tomàquet’.”

Real ‘pa amb tomàquet’

As The New York Times mentioned, Americans enjoy tomatoes on toast in BLTs, while Italians quite like their tomato-topped bruschettas. But none come close to the “superior combination” in Catalonia. This is as far as Catalans are likely to agree with Tanis.

They actually make their beloved tomato bread by taking a usually toasted slice of bread. They then sometimes rub garlic on it before rubbing a tomato on it, and then, depending on who you ask, anoint it with olive oil and add a dash of salt. Or the other way around, first salt and then olive oil – it’s a never-ending debate that, to this day, still kicks up controversy.

‘Pa amb tomàquet’ can be eaten plain or used to accompany any kind of charcuterie or cheese but no way is typical to put tomato on top of the rubbed tomato – and less two kinds of tomato, and add the oil on top of everything.

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