Tarragona, situated on the Mediterranean coast
in the northeast of Spain, is the most southern of the Catalan
provinces. From a geographical and a climatological point of view
it can be divided into two sections: the coastal area, stretching
some 212 km. from Cunit as far as the river de La Senia and consisting
of a succession of fine, sandy beaches; and the area inland. The
main feature of the coastal area is its calm, blue waters, whereas
inland the scenery is enhanced by the intense brightness of the
sunlight. Here the carob trees, vineyards, hazel, almond and olive
trees give an air of grace and beauty.
During the summer the temperature ranges from 23º to 25ºC, but the constant sea breezes help maintain a cool atmosphere. The winters are always mild. Other features of the climate of Tarragona are fairly low rainfall throughout the year, and an extraordinarily large number of bright, sunny days during any season of the year.
As a result of its coastal position the local cooking in this area is centred around fish. The most typical dish from Tarragona is "el romesco" sauce. The excellent olive oil from El Camp and the locally grown peppers, as well as the secret ingredient handed down from generation to generation of fishermen, are the essential components of this sauce. It can be found in the area of El Camp de Tarragona and the Prades mountains. Other typical dishes include fish soup, "el rossejat", "la musola", tunny fish, "los suquets" (spiced with saffron and paprika), octopus with potatoes and garlic, the springtime delicacy known as "chanquete" omelette (made of small, succulent fish), mussels in a garlic sauce, "las telinas" and "la calçotada". This last dish is made using "calçots", a kind of soft, sweet, white onion which, when grilled, is good enough to satisfy the most discerning palate. The traditional menu for a "calçotada" consists of grilled "calçots" with an original sauce called "salvitxada", lamb and grilled long pork sausage with a garlic sauce and typical local bread, red wine, oranges, sweet dishes or a kind of custard, sparkling wine, coffee and liqueurs. The usual time of the year for a "calçotada" is during the winter, from December to March.