La Boqueria of Barcelona: A Shrine to Food

In America, we think we are hot stuff because of all our growing farmer’s markets across the country. Or in Manhattan, a place like Eataly seems like a whole new invention. And then you go to Barcelona, which, like many cities in Europe, has a food market in the middle of the city that has been there forever. Actually, la Boqueria of Barcelona is (according to my Frommer’s Guide) the largest in Europe. If you love food, la Boqueria is worth a visit to Barcelona in and of itself.

My daughter and I visited there a few weeks ago, and I took some pictures with my iPhone that, hopefully, give you a sense of what it’s like.

First, you are greeted by the unabashedly pork-loving Catalans as you enter the market:

Then, you have your choice of dozens of flavors of delicious fresh juices. I picked a hot-pink cactus fruit with coconut. YUM!

Yes, Organic Is Orgasmic!

And so are the “Pincho de Bunuellos,” which are like salt cod fried dough balls…. I’m going to have to find a recipe to try!

We had breakfast at El Quim, which is apparently a famous eatery inside the market. I couldn’t help but snicker, since it is also a horridly rude Victorian slang term for a female’s private parts.

But if there is one thing you learn at la Boqueria, it is that no part goes unsold. I DID NOT take pictures of all the stands selling innards—too rude even for me. And of course there was fish, fish, and more fish, all fresh.

What la Boqueria makes me think about is how vital a city can be if it keeps fresh local food at the center of it. In America, our idea of “progress and efficiency” has pushed food to the outskirts of towns. The return of farmer’s markets is a great sign of hope. But you have to respect a culture that never pushed food out to begin with.

By the way, the Catalonians (as they call themselves in Barcelona) aren’t opposed to progress and efficiency. In fact, they have built the largest urban solar energy installation in the world, which they also use as a pavilion to shade concerts and events!


I did not take pictures of all the gorgeous fruits and vegetables—it was too painful, since I knew I couldn’t take anything home to cook.

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10 Responses to La Boqueria of Barcelona: A Shrine to Food

  1. Donna in Delaware June 15, 2011 at 10:59 am #

    I hear ya! Local food markets have always been in the center of European cities and towns. I was in Friedrichshafen, Germany in May, situated on Lake Constance, or the Bodensee, a shared lake with Switzerland. While there visiting friends, it was just my great fortune that the market was held the next day following my arrival. The fruits and veggies, flowers, breads and meats and anything else one could possibly want, oh my goodness!

    I love these markets. It seems that every time that I go to Europe, they are held, and whenever in Germany, they seem to know when I’m coming. Of course I bought things! There was no way that I was not going to buy! I bought flowers for our hosts and food and drinks for our drive to Italy. The weather was just perfect for the market, which made it even more enjoyable for shopping and browsing.

    When I was in Turin, unbeknownst to me, my hotel was just next door to Eataly! What luck! It is a very small version of the one in NYC, you could sit this Eataly inside of the other, but loaded with good things to eat and buy, mama mia!.

    Hey Maria, did you try the lovely doughnuts that they eat for breakfast with a cup of hot chocolate! Catalan is really the official language of Spain, but don’t tell that to the others that don’t speak it!
    Sorry, didn’t mean to get long-winded. I hope that you enjoyed yourself and welcome back!

  2. Dick Reid June 15, 2011 at 11:09 am #

    I’m remembering beautiful displays of vegetables and big rounds of Parmesan cheese in Bologna. And I’m remembering that I annoyed the proprietor by picking up and taking a closer look at a gorgeous green pepper. Hands off–this ain’t Safeway, buddy!

  3. Donna in Delaware June 15, 2011 at 8:08 pm #

    That’s right Dick, they don’t like for you to touch the produce in Italy unless you put on the gloves or papers that they provide. Please don’t go sniffing the fruit to check if it is ripe you will most likely be kicked out of the market, or worse, put in jail!!

  4. Teresa Mendes June 16, 2011 at 3:09 am #

    The picture of the pig is repulsive.

  5. Bonnie June 16, 2011 at 5:35 am #

    I’m hoping our little local farmers market will come back into the delightful experience that it once was. It used to be busy and fun to shop there.
    Now the town fathers have shoved it out of the pleasant park setting onto a sun blistered patch of parking lot.
    And on top of that, there are some new regulations that must be followed, so there are no longer many of the delicious baked goods for sale.
    It almost seems as if we are going backward!

  6. Bonnie June 16, 2011 at 9:26 am #

    Nuremberg Market is wonderful, don’t miss it if you go there. Medicial teas are fascinating.
    But, like Dick says, don’t pick up the produce to look at it. Gratefully, my German friend explained that to me before I got in trouble.

  7. Donna in Delaware June 16, 2011 at 10:15 am #

    The Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) in Nuremburg is fantastic!

  8. Sandra June 17, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

    I used to live in Barcelona, one of the most cosmopolitan, fabulous and interesting cities of the world. The catalans have always been at the forefront of innovation since the 80s (and well before), and continue to excel in so many areas – architecture, food, art etc. And lest I forget, soccer!

    La Boqueria is SPECTACULAR! Used to go there weekly and have desayunos, tapas and other meals, e.g., pan con tomate, fideos, butifarra, crema catalana and so many other tasty and just superb dishes there, and all over Barcelona and Spain, as well.

    If you haven’t been – get to Spain! I hope to retire there!!!!!

    Unos saludos muy cordiales.

  9. Laura K June 17, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

    I love food-travel-photos, these are fantastic. I’m now drooling, remembering roast suckling pig. (That may sound gross but it’s so good.)

  10. Donna in Delaware June 20, 2011 at 6:17 pm #

    I totally understand Laura. While in Austria a few years ago,I was invited to a Harley Davidson’s Bikerfest by one of the workers at a clinic/spa where I was staying ( I ended up being a runway model for the clothing line, go figure)! They had on a spit, in the open air, 2 suckling pigs roasting, and boy did they look and smell good!!! Unfortunately I couldn’t have any since we were at a health institute/spa, and had been forbidden to eat anything before the prerequisite 3 weeks were up. It was beautifully crisp on the outside and I’m sure, tender and succulent inside.

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