Wednesday, 18 April 2012

La Mercat de Boqueria (Boqueria Market) Barcelona

When its a grey and miserable morning in Manchester (which it is most days lets face it) my thoughts often turn to more sunnier places I have visited.
A few years ago I spent almost a month living in Barcelona. I had just graduated University and after a four day trip there to celebrate, I fell in love with the place. On returning home I was sick with longing to be back there so myself and a friend arranged to go back for a longer time period - this time staying in a beautiful apartment where you could see the old Trividabo amusement park from our room.

Each morning, I would take a solitary walk down to La Boqueria - an historic marketplace that is a buzz of activity that appeals to every sense. I would take in all the bright colours of the fruit and vegetable stalls first, and pick up one on the freshly made juices to accompany me on my journey of exploration.

The juices were a perfect morning refreshment to accompany on my journey, with every variety of fruit sold available in juice form.

It was such a treat to see freshly picked produce, with its vibrant aromas and colours. None of that supermarket rubbish here.

There were even freshly made fruit smoothie ice lollies for those really hot days

Next I would move on to the butchers and admire the vast array of meats available.

I would approach the butchers stalls with caution as sometimes I would find stripped sheeps heads and skinned rabbits (their beady eyes staring back at me) and all manner of other gruesome looking animal guts and body parts. But it was fascinating to see the various things that are used in Spanish/Catalan cooking. We are far too squeamish in England a lot of the time, and here they were putting every last part of the animal to use in some way or other.

 One day I purchased an enourmous chicken to cook a traditional roast dinner for our flatmates, giving them a taste of a British favourite that is always a crowd pleaser! The chicken was completely intact, head and all. I watched as the butcher skillfully removed all my unwanted parts, leaving me the neck to use for a chicken stock. One thing he failed to remove though was the heart. There was a horror movie scene back at the apartment when myself and a flatmate attempted to remove it, blood spattering all over the cupboards! But the taste of the chicken when cooked was very distinctive, and so much better than those bought in a supermarket back in England.

It was in Barcelona that I first developed a taste for Seafood. I was never a fan, put off by the look of Prawns, Mussels and Scallops.  But on seeing the beautful colours and array of Seafood on display at La Boqueria I started to develop cravings for it.
I was always excited at seeing all these bizarre looking sea creatures, especially when you moved past a crab or lobster and it suddenly started to move!

Suddenly I found myself eating Paella, filled with Gambas, Languistines, Squid, Mussels - even Octopus that had been a definite no go area for me (they give me the creeps)
Next I found myself eating Moules Provencale with fresh Mussels purchased from La Boqueria.

Whilst there are plenty of Markets all over the World, La Boqueria will always be special to me. Each time I visit Barcelona, I find myself getting lost again in its hustle and bustle, admiring its wonderful variety of produce, the characters of the stall holders, and the amazing smells and colours that greet me.

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