Row upon row of fruit and vegetables are gathered into neat rows, piles and pyramids, glistening like jewels, tempting with shininess and aroma. This is the welcome you receive upon entering Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, commonly known as La Boqueria Market, off las Ramblas in Barcelona. It’s true that there is a horde of tourists that walk through the market everyday, but this shouldn’t put you off as the history, authenticity and sheer variety of produce remain draw cards.
The last time I visited the market, in May this year, our guide Pax assured us of a return of locals and in particular young people, fed up with supermarket options who are asking questions about the origin of their food and wanting good value and a chat with the producers and farmers.
Navigate your way around
Within the main building, past the fruit and vegetable stands, where you must indulge in freshly squeezed juice of your choice, and the sweets and nut stalls with turron (try the Catalan turron or nougat), you will happen upon counters organised in spirals, brimming with seafood of every type. Seafood so fresh, the smell is actually pleasant, despite there being such vast quantities of it.
The outer flanks of the market include sausages, chacuterie, meat, organs (expect trotters, tripe, hearts and even the bizarre like bull penises) and even a speciality stall selling the meat of fighting bulls that have been killed, an absolute delicacy I believe.
Right, gather your wits about you and let’s proceed…
Don’t forget the sunny farmer’s stalls to the right, as you enter the market on Las Ramblas – nothing is as shiny as it is through the market’s main entrance but the produce is excellent none-the-less.
Top Tips on the Best Tapas
While you’re at La Boqueria, you must sit at one of the bars serving tapas. Seats are hard to come by, so even a bit of elbow room at a table will do. Order a glass of cava at El Quim de la Boqueria located in the centre which specializes in fricassee of artichokes and white asparagus, lamb strips in dark beer, tiny clams steamed in spring wine, squid sauteed with garlic and olive oil over fried eggs, and much more.
An old favourite Pinotxo (Pinocchio) is harder to get a table at, but has over the decades won international acclaim as a food haven. Owner Juanito Bayén and his family serve some of the best food in Barcelona. The xuixos (rectangular doughnuts enveloping a vanilla cream filling) are highly recommended.
Bear this in mind
– Arrive by 10 am, before the lunch time crush
– Go to the information kiosk located in the centre of the market and book a guided tour – again, highly recommended.
– Cooking classes can be arranged at the premises