07 Dec La Boqueria and Catalan Public Markets
Living the experience of La Boqueria market is like being transported to a culinary journey. All your senses get woken up and filled with excitement. It is truly one of the great food markets of the world!
Right at the entrance, you find vegetables and fruits from all around the world, displayed with great beauty and care. But these are only a small part of the market, just a little taste of the more than 300 food stands exhibiting plenty of variety of goods to fulfill the needs of an eclectic variety of shoppers.
But this market is not just for show. At La Boqueria you can spot the head chef of a restaurant looking to shop the best wild mushrooms in town, or a housewife buying the fresh and affordable produce from “les pageses de la boqueria” (the farmers of La Boqueria), or a tourist that is just content with a tropical fruit juice and the theatrical sightseeing of the fish stands.
All this crowd is what makes La Boqueria different from the other 40-plus public markets we have in Barcelona: while in the other markets the main shoppers are from the local neighborhood, La Boqueria is free of any borders. And the offer you find reflects that.
When you shop at La Boqueria or any market in Barcelona, shoppers go not only to buy a variety of goods, but to live the experience of the market. They establish a loyal relationship with their favorite fishmonger, Miquel, or with Jordi the butcher, or with Carme from the fruit and vegetable stand… It is a social event. You’ll ask the vendor about their produce and the conversation will begin:
– Next week you´ll have Maresme strawberries? My daughter loves them!
– Why are the red shrimps so expensive today? “Si carinyo, al Nadal pujen els preus” (yes my darling, for Christmas the prices go up)
– Who is the last one on line?
– Which is the best cut to cook a traditional stew? I love “la llata”. I normally cook it for 1 hour and I add nutmeg at the end like my grandmother did. And if you let it rest it will taste better!
– “Adeu carinyo! Fins la setmana que ve” (Bye darling! See you next week)
If you come to visit Barcelona I really recommend visiting a public market. You’ll be absorbed by our culinary culture.
As for what you´ll find in the markets in Barcelona and in Catalonia, one group of products is from the oldest known preservation method, drying food. This kind of food is still part of our daily diet: salted cod sold in all sort of cuts depending on what dish you are cooking, or dried and cured sausages of different sizes hanging in the food stands and creating a curtain. What I love about dried sausages is that it is a tradition that comes from the necessity to preserve meat for longer, but also from a necessity to use EVERYTHING from the animal. These are good traditions to keep alive today!
Which brings me to another tradition that you´ll find in the markets, which are the stands selling all sort of guts and parts of the animals. These have been used for many years to cook nourishing meals.
Of course, the more attractive stands are the ones where we find all types of olives, stands selling already cooked legumes, dried fruits, fresh eggs, dried spices, … and in only in La Boqueria we find the spectacular stand Petràs, where they sell a big variety of wild mushrooms, fresh and dried. Wild mushrooms are a big part of Catalan cuisine and our culture. People actually make a social activity out of spending a day in the forest picking wild mushrooms. Fall is the best period to enjoy this wonderful treat from nature.
The fishmonger’s section in La Boqueria is located in the heart of the market . It is a circular stage where the main audience at peak hours are tourists stunned by the variety of fish and some rare shellfish they have never tried, like Galician percebes (goose barnacle), garotes (sea urchin), navalles (razors)…
After a “hard day´s work”, browsing around the market, I recommend finishing your Boqueria experience eating fresh market food at Bar El Quim, or traditional slow cooked dishes at Bar Pinotxo.
Enjoy the experience, “carinyos”!! And have a great week 😉