Last week I had some cousins visiting Barcelona, and after enjoying a yummie tapas lunch, we went to La Boqueria market for a wander. I habitually shop here for fresh vegetables, fruit, etc. , but I rarely have my camera with me, so this time, I decided to make the most of it, and took these close up shots of the various products they have on display…
As it is located just off La Rambla and is so very beautiful, La Boqueria attracts hundreds of tourists every day. To cash in on this, many shop owners have changed their selection to cater to tourists’ needs, and so offer fruit juices and packaged, sliced fruit, among other things. (I even saw a shop that sells fish and chips – which in my opinion, is taking things a little bit too far!)
Nevertheless, in keeping with La Boqueria’s tradition, all wares are displayed exquisitely, in (often) huge, neatly stacked piles, and the result is an explosion of colour in the fruit and vegetable sections. It is difficult to resist buying anything, as it all looks so very appealing!
Great pains are taken to stack the produce beautifully and shop owners do not appreciate anyone touching their goods. It is only once they know a customer that one is permitted to make one’s own selection, and even so, not all shop owners allow it.
One of my favourite stalls is the egg shop, Ous del Calaf. Although some eggs may be sitting in piles of carton trays (no doubt waiting for a particular customer to collect them) most eggs are prettily displayed in nests of straw. Any kind of egg is available here, white and brown chicken eggs, quail eggs, duck eggs, goose eggs and also ostrich eggs, as well as many other eggs. When buying anything in La Boqueria, don’t forget to ask for your turn, or take a number from the dispenser.
The various meat shops are no less impressive in their displays, especially those selling various types of cured ham and a wide range of sausages, both raw and cured, such as the botifarra below, which still has to be pan fried…
In Barcelona, as in the rest of Spain, it is normal to eat any part of an animal, and these body parts are also on display. Not for the faint-hearted! Thus you may see tripe, or heart, pork trotters, whole skinned rabbits or poultry, sheep’s brains or even spot bovine eyes looking at you!
Surrounding the fish section, which can be found in the middle of the market, are stalls selling deep fried fish products, like the above pescadito frito (delicious!) as well as cod dumplings (a favourite of mine), squid rings, and more. Also in these shops you can find salt cod in various stages of preparation – dried or soaked, cut in strips or in larger pieces. Shop owners are often happy to provide tips on preparation methods, or will even share their recipes with you. Although it has to be said that most do not speak much English.
A huge variety of shell fish is also sold in this part of the market, and most is still alive – it is a fresh markt after all! – which offers some interesting images, such as the razor clams below, oozing out of their shells.
If you want to try these delicacies, but do not know how to prepare them, or don’t have a kitchen at your disposal, then go to one of the many cafe restaurants, dotted around La Boqueria where they are served, prepared deliciously in a number of ways. It is a great way to savour the Spanish way of life, which is centered on enjoying life as much as possible.
The fish section is worthy of a visit, even if you are not a fish lover. The variety is impressive and the displays, as everywhere in La Boqueria, a veritable sight to see. The shaved ice is replenished several times a day, and so you can see ice suppliers carting boxes of ice around while on their delivery rounds. You may like to know that many restaurants, even the very exclusive ones, come to La Boqueria for their fresh ingredients, even though there are fresh markets in every neighborhood in Barcelona.
I have been coming to La Boqueria for over seven years now, and love the interaction with the shop owners who are often very friendly and always make time for a chat. If you stay at the Cute Suite, you are in luck, for La Boqueria is just a couple of blocks away. I’ll be happy to point you in the right direction, and let you in on which shops are better value.
At the back end of La Boqueria there are several shops selling a wide selection of nuts or many different dried mushrooms. But in Autumn the market explodes with fresh mushrooms, often picked by the shop owners (or their families) themselves in the Catalan countryside as well as in the foothills of the Pyrenees.
I hope you have enjoyed this wander around La Boqueria! It is open from 8am until 8pm. For more information, check out their website, it is full of interesting tidbits about its history, the various traders, what’s on, etc.
What’s on where you are this weekend? Do you have any nice things planned? Whatever you do, enjoy, and have a good one! Bon cap de setmana!