Wherever my travels take me, I like to discover local markets for local goodies. If you are travelling to Barcelona, a visit to La Boqueria Market is an absolute “must” for the finest in fresh ingredient but also for architecture lovers.
Situated just a few paces off Barcelona´s most famous street, La Rambla, close to the Liceu metro station lies La Boqueria. Here, people eat, shop and congregate, doing what the Spanish excel at, living life well and enjoying a sense of community
El Mercato Sant Joseo, called by everyone la Boqueria is Barcelona’s premier market described by Time Out magazine as “El millor mercat del món” (the best market in the world). This world-renowned market (part of a strong market tradition in Barcelona) is illustrating the impact that it has on those who pass under its Modernisme-influenced entrance.
These Art Nouveau touches are reflective of improvements made to the market in the early 20th century, culminating in the addition of a metal roof in 1914. This aids in containing the frenetic ambience within La Boqueria, and of course helps to protect eager shoppers from the elements. Though these changes have done much to promote the La Boqueria’s legendary status, the market has played a pivotal role in Barcelona trade for centuries, with its first mention dating back to 1217.
It is also the place where I began my fascination with Spanish food. Entering La Boqueria is a sharply sensory experience. It is a gastronomic heaven, where all aspects of the food chain are joined together, from the harvesters, producers, butchers and fishmongers who provide the food, to the chefs who cook it, and the locals and visitors who enjoy the hustle and bustle of the Barcelona street life.
Immediately you take aback by the sights, sounds and smells emanating from the vast array of stalls. There are numerous fruit stands situated at the front of the market, containing an almost overwhelming palate of colors.
These stands offer just squeezed fruit juices, whilst pots of melon and strawberries can be purchased for just quite nothing. Garden-fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh fish, live king crabs, dangling poultry, dead pigs’ heads, Spanish chorizo, jamón ibérico de bellota, flavored spices, colorful candies and sweets, lovely flower stands….
The center of the market occupied by the many fishmongers as this is perhaps the most frantic, vibrant area of the market. A wide range of fish, including everything from tuna to turbot, is delivered right in front of the customers.
The products are the freshest you will find anywhere, and the diversity of the ingredients is one reason that many of the city’s top chefs, including Ferran Adrià, buy their produce here. Furthermore, ´bacalao frito´ (fried cod) can be bought to take away, and this is a local favorite.
I continued to walk around La Boqueria, taking pictures of everything. Finally I got hungry and I stopped at some tapas bars, El Quim and Pinotxo. Both are usually beyond busy and waiting for a seat is par for the course. I eat the best tortilla ever.
Española I’ve ever had and the delicious grilled octopus with few glasses of delicious Rosado wine. Also a meal at the Kiosko Universal is part of the Boqueria experience. The menu consists of fresh seafood of all types, platters of mixed wild mushrooms or peppers, auburgines, asparagus and carrots dripping in their signature sauce of olive oil, lemon and herbs. And there is an endless supply of freshly baked crusty bread to soak up the remaining sauce on your plate.
And then there is the Ham. This is not just any ham, but jamón Ibérico de bellota — cured ham made from acorn-fed, black-footed pigs. Astonishing! The Spanish Caviar!
I lost myself for an easy 3 hours among the market’s stalls, including time out for a Tapas Bar lunch and I loved it!
One of the prime joys to be taken from a visit to La Boqueria is the discovery of a range of rarities that one would not often expect to find under the same roof. If I had to choose only one spot to visit in Barcelona, it would be this impressive must-see locale for perusing, shopping and lots of food sampling. This joie de vivre is one of the foremost reasons that this market is something of a photographer´s dream, a fact attested to by the droves of camera-toting tourists trying to capture the essence of La Boqueria.
Each time I returned to Barcelona, I make a point to go back to the Boqueria market. I’ll always remember it as the place I truly fell in love with Spanish food.
The hours of La Boqueria market are Monday- Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. but the market is most lively in the morning, before 2:00 p.m.
More info www.Catalunia.com< br/>