October 15th, 2011
I must have been to the market every day this week and 20 years ago, when I lived in Barcelona, I did all my shopping there. It’s the kind of place that makes one think, “Who needs supermarkets?”
We had invited about 12 people to lunch and the shopping list included turkey,
beautiful scallops (not quite as good as real life, under the fluorescent lighting)
There has been a market, more or less, on La Boqueria site since about 1200 and it originates from an open air market, outside one of the city gates, where local farmers came to sell their wares. It is thought that the name comes from the Catalan word boc meaning goat, which would suggest it was once, predominantly, a goat market. The current market structure dates from 1914 and has a distinct Art Nouveaux look – particularly in it’s sign (top photograph).
Family stallholders have passed their businesses down through the ages. Most stalls are now self contained lock ups with doors and shutters. Alongside fish, meat and vegetables, there are even several bars, serving food and drink through out the day. When I went clubbing, back in the 90’s, my girlfriend and I would often come here for coffee and a bocadillo de tortilla (Spanish omelette baguette), at 5 am, before going home to bed.
The market contains a diverse range of products – particularly pork, ham and sausages.
There’s a huge fresh fish section selling popular fish, such as merluza (hake) and rapé (monkfish).
No market in Spain would be complete without stalls selling salt cod (bacalao), salted and dried to preserve it, from a time before refrigerators existed and now, still an essential and delicious part of Spanish cuisine.
I don’t think I’d ever seen the beautiful and delicious kaki (persimmon) fruit before I first came here.
I was amused to see a spice marked Curry London, amongst the pimentón, cayenne and saffron today.
Continuing, the ancient traditions, local farmers still bring there fruit and vegetables to market on a daily basis and set up stalls in a little square, to one side of the permanent Boqueria building.
I never tire of this market, it’s a constant source of amusement an inspiration.