Like in Italy, food is very important to the people of Spain. My parents and I got to experience this first hand while on vacation to the beautiful and romantic city of Barcelona. We were amazed to find out that there are forty food markets in the city and we had the chance to visit two, La Boqueria and Mercat Santa Caterina while on a Context Travel tour (From Farm to Fork: La Boqueria: www.contexttravel.com) with our docent Esther.
We began at La Boqueria where 100 colorful stalls filled with all different types of food from chocolate to fish were there for us to explore. The market is organized with fish in the center, then meat circling in outer stalls, and around the edges are stands with dried fruit, chocolate, bread etc. with a few tapas bars mixed in.
Esther took us down a side street instead of entering the market at the front end, this way there were less tourists and locals to block our views of the food. We started out by looking at mushrooms and learning about the different types grown in Spain and around the city of Barcelona. Then we made our way to the center to check out the fish, some of them were still alive in their shells (definitely fresh from the sea!). Here we tried fried cod, which is a typical fish eaten in Barcelona.
Once we finished viewing all the seafood we moved our way over to the olives, and there were so many different types to choose from, black and green, small and large. Esther explained to us that olives are a staple food in the Spanish diet. This led us to our next food stall, jamon or known in English as ham. I was surprised when Esther told us that a leg of ham (if the pig ate acorns) can cost €500 or more. It is something that you definitely don’t buy on an everyday occasion!
To finish our visit to La Boqueria we stopped at Pinotxo (Pinocchio) a famous tapas bar, where we tried a fantastic chickpea dish that left our mouths watering for more. But we still had one more market to explore: Mercat Santa Caterina.
Mercat Santa Caterina is a bit smaller than La Boqueria (70 food stands) and less crowded, but thats not to say that the food isn’t as good. We went to a stall where they sell cheeses and meats. As our last part of the walk Esther had us taste two different types of cheese (goat and sheep) and some salami. I have to say at the end both my parents and my stomach were very happy and full plus we had learned so much about the history and food of Barcelona and Spain.