Everybody has tried kebabs throughout Turkey and the Arab World, but it’s cool to learn that Spain has its own variety of this popular snack food, and during a nice relaxing afternoon at Barcelona’s best beach, I had the chance to tuck into my own plate of these skewered meats!
Even when I went on family holidays as a kid to France, we never were by the seaside, instead my mum and dad insisted on going camping in the wilderness (maybe that’s where I got my backpacking tendencies?!). Anyway, nowadays I am fully aware of the great beaches along the Mediterranean, such as at Nice or St. Tropez on the French Riviera, Positano or Portofino on the Italian Riviera (not to mention Sicily), the thousands of Greek islands which all have amazing coastlines (Greece is the European version of Thailand or the Philippines, in this regard). But although I had always wanted to visit Barcelona, I kind of forgot the city was situated on the coast.
On a free afternoon, though, I headed down to Barceloneta Beach. I had just been to the zoo, so I wasn’t exactly planning to swim, merely planning to take a slow and relaxing walk down the coast. It was very busy, as there were hundreds of people soaking up the Iberian sunshine beside the calm Mediterranean waters. Barceloneta beach is actually the closest beach to Barcelona’s city centre, about 15 minutes walk from “downtown”. As well as providing a nice opportunity to sunbathe, Barceloneta has many fabulous seafood restaurants and vendors selling takeaway items such as Pinchitos.
Pinchitos are small cubes of meat threaded onto a skewer which are traditionally cooked over charcoal braziers. Pork and chicken are the most popular meats for the dish in Barcelona, and it seems that this snack is served all day long near the beach!
Pinchitos are usually made of lean diced pork or chicken meat, marinated with olive oil and herbs and spices, and then seasoned with salt. Typically in Barcelona, Pinchitos are one of the main dishes cooked at barbecues during the summer, and they are normally served with tomato bread, wedges of lemon, plus all the sangria in Spain!
In places further east like in Turkey, these kind of kebabs are sold from “ocakbasi” vendors throughout the year, but here in Spain the Pinchitos are reserved for more special occasions – although thankfully for me they are still readily available to buy all over the city of Barcelona. At Barceloneta Beach, I enjoyed a few pinchitos and these loaded me up with carbs for my walk along the coastline – and at just 3 Euros they were a meaty bargain!
During my time at the beach, which I presume was during a Catalan holiday due to the sheer number of people in the area, I noticed weird-looking architecture, but why was this on the sand and why was it so near to the saltwater? I actually didn’t know, but it was nice to look at – and pretty unique!
It is hard to say if the Pinchitos are a match for the traditional Turkish skewered kebabs found at “ocakbasi” shops around Istanbul, but one thing is for sure: there is no better way to experience grilled meats in Barcelona than with these Pinchitos! Now, which country has the better beaches? Well, that’s an argument for another day…