Saturday, December 17, 2011

La Boqueria

      Six months ago, Cindy and I took a wonderful trip to Spain and France.  We flew into Barcelona and spent two nights there in a little family run hotel, the Hosteria Grau, in the newer of the old sections of Barcelona.  We walked, and walked, and walked some more.  Totally by accident, we found La Boqueria, just off La Rambla, an amazing market right in the heart of Barcelona, and now in our hearts.  As per the Wikipedia piece at the end, the market was at this location 20 years before Columbus discovered the Americas.  Unbelievable.  Very Barcelona.

La Boqueria
      Housed in a high ceilinged open warehouse, the place is huge!  And the vendors many.  Any fresh food item you want, they probably have it.  But not for cheap, as many items were quite expensive.  But the browsing was free, and a treat.

A market has to have fresh produce
And fresh breads and pastries
And in Spain, gorgeous olives

Mushrooms, fresh and dried

Dried mushrooms, even by the bushel

      I was most impressed with the seafood vendors.  Everything fresh, or better yet, alive.  Not a trace of an ammonia odor.  Stuff I had never seen.  Stuff I have never eaten.  Like...

Live Percebe
      Percebe.  Goose neck barnacles.  Very interesting to look at.  I should have found some on a restaurant menu just to try.  That price of 28.99 euros works out to $19.75 a pound!  And the little part you eat, or suck out, is in the tube.  The tube and neat looking top are just very expensive waste.

More live seafood
      The cigar looking thingies are what we call razor clams.  Live and slippery.  The pinkish prawns that have the color of cooked crustaceans were actually alive!  I think that color is indicative of them being caught at great depths, where color pigments are not of any biologic value.  So caught at depth, put on ice, and brought to the market live.  Obviously the norm at this market.
      There were butcher stalls of beef and pork.  Beautiful and expensive huge hanging hams.  Candies, coffees, and yet more.  A very magical place.
The website for the market is:

      And interesting historical info was found at Wikipedia:

      The first mention of the Boqueria market in Barcelona dates from 1217, when tables were installed near the old city gate to sell meat. From December 1470 onwards, a pig market was held at this site; at this time it was known as Mercat Bornet. Later, until 1794, it was known simply as Mercat de la Palla, or straw market. In the beginning, the market was not enclosed and had no official status, being regarded simply as an extension of the Placa Nova market, which extended to the Placa del Pi.
      Later, the authorities decided to construct a separate market on La Rambla, housing mainly fishmongers and butchers. It was not until 1826 that the market was legally recognized, and a convention held in 1835 decided to build an official structure. Construction began on March 19, 1840 under the direction of the architect Mas Vila. The market officially opened in the same year, but the plans for the building were modified many times. The inauguration of the structure finally took place in 1853. A new fish market opened in 1911, and the metal roof that still exists today was constructed in 1914.

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