Barcelona’s Boqueria

Posted on Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009 at 9:51 am

I agree with all the superlatives that have been assigned to Barcelona’s Boqueria.  It is, hands down, the most amazing market I have ever experienced.

La Boqueria in Barcelona

As I wandered the aisles, there was everything that could be craved: seafood, meats, cheeses, eggs, produce, chocolates, spices, nuts, and more.  It was all fresh, colorful, and beautifully presented.

The Boqueria manages to be both raw and sleek at the same time.  The carcass of a halved lamb hangs on a lone butcher hook and I marvel at its beauty, snatched before I can snap its photo.  Vendors periodically turn the crabs on their sides so you can watch them flail and know that they are alive.  Rows of jamon hang just above head height, each leg with a little plastic cup below to catch its drippings.

It is an assault of color.  Perfectly-stacked, precarious-looking produce comes in every shade.  The fruit vendors sell take-away cups of fluorescent juice.  The candy stores look like jewelry shops.

La Boqueria in Barcelona La Boqueria in Barcelona

La Boqueria in Barcelona La Boqueria in Barcelona

La Boqueria in Barcelona La Boqueria in Barcelona

La Boqueria in Barcelona La Boqueria in Barcelona

This market wants you to eat now.  One fish stand sells little lollipops of fried cod alongside the day’s fresh catch.  The butcher shop sells skewers of meat and cheese.  There are those stacks of freshly squeezed juices; I tasted green kiwi coconut one day and pink dragonfruit the next.  In addition to the vendors, there are also countless counter cafes scattered throughout the market.  These little restaurants serve the freshest of what the Boqueria has to offer, along with your cup of coffee or cava.

In the morning, the market is throbbing with people.  Many, like me, are slowly wandering the aisles, jaws dropped, camera in hand.  For lucky others, this is their boqueria and they rush through to get the making of tonight’s dinner or tomorrow’s lunch.  Later in the day, the market becomes quieter.  In his cookbook, Made in Spain, Chef Jose Andres writes the most gorgeous passage about the market.  He eulogizes, “At the end of the afternoon, when the market was dying down, I always felt a sense of loss.  I thought the market was in a sense a living thing that needed time to rest.  So I would wait anxiously until the next morning, when it would come alive once again.”  I felt that about this market.  I couldn’t wait to get back to it.  I found my way there as many times as possible in my too-few days in beautiful Barcelona.

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