I discovered a gastronomical wonderland while in Barcelona called the "Mercat de Sant Josep la Bouqueria". Or, as us locals like to call it "La Bouqueria". Yep, 5 days in Barcelona makes me a local in MY book. (**Danger, Will Robinson, Danger....photo overload approaching).
Enter thru the grand iron entrance off Las Ramblas into one of the largest food markets in the world. The entire Catalan food industry is showcased here amongst it's ga-zillion food stalls. Yep, a GA-ZILLLLLLLION...I swear!!!!! And be prepared to have all your senses "pleasantly" assaulted.
"I'll take a dozen Ostrich eggs, please"
In the interest of full disclosure, I admit I am a farmers market-aholic. So it takes a lot to impress me when it comes to meandering aisles of local produce. Helloooooo....I lived amongst the Amish for 30 years folks, I KNOW my sweet corn, tomatos and apple butter. Farmers' markets call to me like a pig answers to SUUUUUUUU-EEEEEEE. Just don't CALL me a pig, okay? Again, did I mention how much the Catalans love their Jamon?
La Bouqueria can be a bit overwhelming to the senses if you are a neophyte. Ahemmmm, yep I'm talking to those members of my travel group who got a bit nauseous from the smells. JUST because you walked by a fish-monger and JUST because you happened to be in the line of fire when the knife came down on some sort of humongous fish, and JUST because you got a bit splattered by fish entrails, doesn't necessarily HAVE to be a negative. Actually, it kind of lends to the charm of the place for US locals...just sayin'.
Okay, I admit the whole bombardment of noise, colors, smells, and sights is a sensory overload and can literally make your head spin. Especially if you have James Dean hanging around your neck just begging to be used ALL THE TIME. I mean the entire food chain is represented in this maze of stalls from producers, harvesters, butchers, fishmongers, bakers and let's not forget...vintners, artisans, and purveyors of insects (?).
Born in 1217 and built on the sight of a former convent, La Bouqueria is a market on the surface but look more closely and you'll see a live theatrical performance amongst it's 3rd and 4th generation sellers and the locals. The noise, oh the noise. The market is about it's people bringing the past and present together in the midst of Barcelona. It's where Catalonians come to eat, shop and gossip together.
It's no wonder the Spanish are known for excelling at living life well and enjoying a sense of community.
Yes, the floors are wet in places from melting ice, fruit skins, and unidentifiable flying animal parts from the stall holders. And yes, it is loud. But I prefer to call that "ambiance".
What I DO know is that I'll have whatever THIS guy is selling...
Oh yeah, did I mention the Catalans LOVE their Jamon????
I have to tell ya, I could have easily spent all day at La Bouqueria if flying fish intestines and squeamish stomachs hadn't intervened. It seemed like a crime to not buy enough provisions to cook a delicious Catalan dinner. It almost made me wish I had a kitchen I could borrow for the evening. Alas, I had to settle for yet another evening out on the town hitting yet a new Tapas restaurant where the chef most certainly procured his ingredients at La Bouqueria that morning. And I guess that will suffice very nicely...for a local like me.