Oh we know that every city worth its weight in fresh produce is home to a market which is just the bees’ knees. But if that’s really the case, then La Boqueria in Barcelona would have to rate as the most queen bee market of all. This place just makes you swoon and drool at first sight. The smells, colours and at times chaotic crowds beautifully epitomizes all that is so wonderfully Spanish. Loud, proud and utterly delectable.
If you, like us, think that the only real way to get to know a country and its culture is through your stomach, then there’s only one thing to do on your next visit to Barcelona: get up close and personal with La Boqueria Market.
So much more than just a great place to feast...
Head to La Boqueria on any Sunday in July and you’d be forgiven for thinking this is the biggest tourist trap in the city. Whilst it certainly has an allure which literally ‘traps’ visitors for hours on end, it is by no means contrived or set up to please the foreign visitor. La Boqueria is there to please everyone, so it’s no wonder that tourists are drawn to it like bees to honey. The organic, gooey, homemade honey you’ll find here, by the way, is one of the best you’ll ever savour!
Markets specialising in the trade of fresh goods have been running on the site of modern-day La Boqueria since the beginning of the 13th century; although they were only recognized as bona fide markets well into the 19th century. You know, it’s that lovable Spanish thing: mañana, mañana, we’ll get to it mañana... Funnily enough, even when the enclosed market was built, it was opened to the public in 1840, yet the inauguration for it was held 13 years later. How do you not love that blatant disregard for chronological order?
Fresh fish and meat was the main trade in the 1800s, yet by the time it was officially recognized, it had grown to include a plethora of produce and hand-crafts. The tradition of congregating on this site is so ingrained in Barcelona that the market is seen, by locals, as the very heart and soul of the city. This is where they come to meet, shop, gossip and feast. Calling this ‘touristy’ (as some visitors have done) could easily be regarded as an insult to those whose families have been trading here for generations. La Boqueria is actually a very vivid personification of the Spanish love of food, friends and life. Plus it’s LOUD beyond your wildest dreams! Traders yell their best offers and tempt you with their produce, even going to the effort of putting on a ‘show’ for tourists. They know they won’t get much of a sale out of them but they don’t care, they do it for the fun and the love of it.
When you visit the markets on your next visit to Barcelona, make sure you have plenty of time up your sleeve. This is one experience you don’t want to rush. Get hopelessly lost through the stalls of fresh and salted fish, offal, meat and a near endless selection of the most fragrant and colourful fruits and veggies you’ll ever see anywhere. The best produce from all over the country is traded here and La Boqueria services all of Barcelona’s very best restaurants too. Hey...if it’s good enough for them...it’s good enough for us!
Head to La Boqueria’s website for the latest info on what’s hot and what’s on. If ogling at the goodies on sale just doesn’t cut it for you, then book a place at the famous Boqueria Cooking School and learn everything there is to know about the delectable Spanish cuisine.