Boqueria Market – Barcelona
Just returned from a great stay in Barcelona. The weather was superb which was unexpected. I made a late packing change, removing swimming trunks and adding umbrella and waterproof jacket which was very badly judged in retrospect. We hired an apartment on the Ramblas right next door to the superb Boqueria Market. Good idea on paper. Bad idea in reality. The Ramblas is the incredibly busy entertainment street in Barcelona and is busy and noisy until about 2am. The market starts up at around 4am, therefore my window for sleep was about 2 hours. Oh well.
Unlike Borough Market, it feels that little has been changed to appeal directly to tourists. Sure, you can buy little portions of fruit for a euro which is probably the most bought item by shy non-spanish speaking visitors, but half of the market has not been given over to food stands like at Borough. If you want to eat in the Market you need to brave the seafood stalls around the edge or one of the tapas bars inside the market.
I felt a little guilty taking photos in the market as I didn’t really want to mark myself out as a tourist (well, besides the camera round my neck and the Timeout Barcelona guide in my pocket). In London, I used to be one of the tourists taking pictures of piles of olives and sun-dried tomatoes but now market tourists just get on my nerves as they puncture the adventure of exploring all the produce by making you stop constantly so that they can take a photo that thousands of people have already taken and probably a better example of it can be found on Google image search. Gosh, London has made me bitter!
The market has been there in some shape or form since the 13th century, the breadth of produce that it sells is overwhelming. The seafood ‘circle’ in the centre is especially breathtaking. Every edible living thing from the nearby seas is beautifully tumbled onto ice ready for purchase. We bought huge prawns one night and cooked them with a simple seafood sauce and mopped up the juices with bread. We were also inspired by the razor clams, their huge foot drooping out of the shell when held aloft, like honey from a spoon. More of that in another post! Fruit and vegetables look garden fresh and were snapped up by local residents. Its no wonder that the local ‘Carrefour’ super mecado had little fresh produce other than bulk items when you can buy such amazing produce directly from the market.
It can seem a little overwhelming initially. I wanted to buy steaks one night and just couldn’t see the cuts that I wanted so sadly I retreated and bought them from the supermarket (they weren’t very good). Later in the week I plucked up more courage and found the sellers to be charming and very willing to help.
Barcelona’s Boqueria Market feels like the beating heart of the city. Indeed if you are looking for heart you can buy it by the kilo here though not beating though of course. It is definitely worth a visit and to me it is the most wonderful market in the world.