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La Boqueria

A slice of Catalonia...
My first trip to Barcelon's Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria - known as La Boqueria - was sometime back in 60's.

My first trip to Barcelon's Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria - known as La Boqueria - was sometime back in 60's. Our dad would chuck 6 weans and a granny in the back of an old mustard VW and basically drive to Spain and back. Our holiday time depended up on dads cash flow and being a teacher we would spend anything from 2 to 6 weeks touring the campsites of France and Catalan living on local bread, cheese, Shippams crab paste, tomatoes and chupa chups, with the occasional prix fixe menu treat in the routiers (roadside cafes) of France. My memories of that day are of the smell of roast chicken, being terrified of the live lobsters on display and watching my gran delicately shelling and eating king prawns in a slick of garlicky olive oil between the odd sip of cava and flirting with the barman. My second trip was a whistle stop trolley dash as touring chef on Tina Turner's Private Dancer tour in '91. I had a blank cheque to go shopping for breakfast, lunch and dinner for 120 crew and will never forget the look from the lady butcher on the Carns Serrano stand as I requested 'un centenar de doscientos cincuenta gramos de filetes de solomillo por favor' (100 steaks please)made her day for sure!

Needless to say Tina and the crew ate very well that day. Recently I paid homage on a trip to Barcelona and was struck by the colour, variety and vibrancy of the market. Although there appear to be one or two roguish looking traders flogging overpriced fruit salad and smoothies to the tourists it still remains relatively untouched and still tops any inquisitive foodies itinerary. The fish stalls are sensational especially Bacallaneries Gomà selling the bacalao (dried salt cod) or for something more challenging try the salt cured octopus.

There are too numerous fruit and veg stalls to mentionbut Fruras y Verduras Jesus y Carmen has an incredible selection of dried chillies as well as regional specialities.If offal is your thing then don't miss the Menuts Rosa stand which takes nose to tail eating to the extreme and not for the squeamish! Ideally La Boqueria is best experienced in the cool of the early morning over a leisurely 2/3 hour stroll finishing at the Bar Central la Boqueria for a plate of perfectly judged, fresh and tasty mariscos a la plancha (grilled seafood) and a chilled cava.

 

La Boqueria dates back to the 11th century and still has a timeless quality - the bar where my gran drank cava and ate prawns is still there as is I am convinced the barman and the lady butcher whom I bought the beef from is still on her tools, tho the lobsters are a lot less terrifying.