la boqueria market, barcelona
Barcelona city’s central market – La Boqueria – is full of tourists!!! Just off Las Ramblas, the market teems with tourists and their cameras, snapping away at the stalls and stallholders alike. It’s a bit papparazzi. For travellers, who often enough make Barcelona their only port of call on the Iberian peninsula, La Boqueria is a must see.
Juice stalls drawing in thirsty tourists with their technicolour display (and tourist friendly prices…)
Left: The gorgeous art deco signage – they do things in style. Right: Equally gorgeous tomatoes.
Housed in a purpose built art deco building off the Las Ramblas, the market provides a vibrant snapshot of how Spanish life and food are so deeply entwined.
Beneath the glare of light bulbs, produce is piled on vertiginous displays – vibrant and fragrant citrus, bundled greens and crates of eggs. It’s a maze of stalls, the wares spanning the specialities and varieties of the country. From the side stalls selling juices at extortionist prices to the grotesque, bulging fish eggs, it’s a feast for the senses. There’s truffles, jamon and everything in between.
It’s all in the presentation. Stallholders trying to get decent business instead of gawking tourists (like me).
Sacks of dried morels and porcini mushrooms.
Venturing into the darker depths of the markets, the tourists thin out to reveal the more carnivorous departments. Milky flesh of suckling lambs (great when spit roasted), pulsating eels and the freshest, deep red prawns with sky blue underbellies. The floors are wet and the air smells of the land and sea. There’s a fabulous variety of seafood – vermillion prawns, countless cockles, barnacle-like percebes and angry lobsters all make up a small fraction of what’s on offer.
It’s also in the more squeamish areas where the locals can be observed – plump housewives dragging their grocery trolleys, mercilessly seeking the best produce.
Seafood stall. (Curiously, the fabulously red prawns in the photo are not cooked, but raw.)
Mean looking, tasty crabs.
Left: The weird looking barnacles are percebes – a type of shellfish which is a majorly expensive delicacy. Right: Baby goat – so tiny!
Snails – camera shy but definitely alive (there’s one saying hi on the right!).
It’s easy to graze within the market, as there are snacks for sale every third stall or so. (It is best to eat inside the market instead on La Rambla, where hawkers make easy prey of tourists.) The bacala (salted cod) stalls sell sticks of cod croquettes for a couple of euros each, which are worth trying. Or buy a few slices of luxuriously fatty jamon de bellota and snaffle it while staring at the butcher’s display posthumously staring back.
There are a few market bars worth checking out. The best known is Bar Pinotxo – which is so popular, hordes of people wait for one of the maybe, eight seats to empty, Unfortunately, we had no room left after grazing the market…
Mercat de La Boqueria
La Rambla, 91, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
T: 933 182 584
Open Mon-Sat 8am-8:30pm
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