La Boqueria, Barcelona

April 17, 2012

The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria has its origins in a market established in 1217. The actual structure dates from 1853, with the roof added in 1914. It is now both a thriving market for Barcelona food shoppers and a major tourist attraction, probably the most photographed market in Europe. Linda and I went the afternoon of our arrival in Barcelona on February 7, 2012, and again the morning of our departure February 10 to buy some things to take along with us.

We had last been in Barcelona twenty-five years before and were surprised to see how La Boqeria had evolved with modern, orderly, well-lighted stalls. Some of the charm was gone, but the amount of business being done, the high quality and variety of the products and the excellent presentations made it clear that the improvements were good for the health of the market.

As in any market, fruits and vegetables are the most important offerings. Although it was February, there seemed to be plenty. Of course, La Boqueria is a resellers market, not a farmers market and so produce from Andalucia and further south was available.

Calçots are a seasonal specialty of the region. These mild, large green onions are traditionally barbecued.

It is surprising to see so many good looking tomatoes in February.

Mushrooms gathered in the woods are important here and are sold along with cultivated mushrooms.

The wide variety of meats is dominated by hams and sausages.

Linda contemplates some well-wrapped ham pieces, as well as local cheese, to take with us. She and the sales lady enjoy their transaction.

A wide variety of fresh eggs.

The fish and seafood section is toward the back of the market. While there are plenty of fresh fish, shellfish seem to dominate.

Dried cod is important in this part of the world.

The baker’s stand has a wide offering, including many sandwiches.

Fresh juices from many different fruits.

A Catalan take on pizza.

This stand specialises in buñuelos de bacalao, or salt cod fritters. We bought skewers of them both times we were at La Boqueria. They are cooked when one buys them and are best eaten right away. They were light and delicious.

I bought some saffron.

Many nuts and candied fruit.

Chocolates and other candies.

There are several small restaurants in La Boqueria each with about a dozen stools at a counter. These open early and serve throughout the morning. They can be very crowded, particularly from noon to about 4:00 in the afternoon, when they close. The two most famous, which attract foodies from around the world, are El Quim de la Boqueria and Pinotxo, which are in the first three photos below.

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