My first trip to the Boqueria Market was in July 2011. I went for the amazing fresh fruit juice specials, which after 3pm are 2 for 1, but I discovered so much more. Yes, it is true that the market is predominately full of tourists, who flock there in herds to enjoy the amazing tropical beverages, to buy souvenirs like speciality candies and Spain’s infamous Jamon that has been cured to perfection, to feast their eyes on the abundant displays of Mediterranean dried fruits and roasted nuts, and to gawk at the peculiar selection of meat which, among other things, includes goats’ heads, pigs’ feet, ears and stomachs — nothing you would find at Safeway or Whole Foods and to tell you the truth that is perfectly okay with me.
This past weekend I was back in Barcelona and I just had to make a stop at the Boqueria Market, again with a refreshing pineapple and coconut juice in mind. Yet let me be clear that, as much as I love the bright coloured juices that are the vision of all perfection, I am totally against the waste created by the plastic cups. I will leave that discussion for another time. On my return visit to the market the question: what makes this market local when all these tourists are buzzing around, was on my mind. What the camera lens doesn’t immediately pick up are the many men and women who mid-afternoon take a seat at one of the market’s informal bars and savour some of the local cuisine. The sound of sizzling seafood and the smell of garlic and other spices unknown to this traveler’s nose were delightful. Next visit I promise to brush up on my Spanish, or even better on Catalan, make myself comfortable on a stool, and get a good taste of the ‘local’ at the Boqueria Market.
If you are interested in reading more about the history of Barcelona’s Market system I would recommend a scholarly article written by Nadia Fava, Manuel Guardia and José Luis Oyón titled, “Public versus private: Barcelona’s market system, 1868-1975″ in Planning Perspectives Vol. 25 No. 1 2010.
Or for a shorter read check out the city’s quick and informative history about Barcelona’s public market system.