La Boquería & Mercat de Santa Caterina

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Wandering around the markets of Barcelona–which is an essential activity for any food lover who visits–you’re confronted with sights and sounds and smells that’ll haunt you forever. I may one day forget the spires of the Sagrada Familia, but I’ll never forget my time wandering the aisles and aisles of fresh fish (so fresh, some of it’s still moving!), eggs placed out on piles of hay, and cuts of meat so stark and unfamiliar, they’d probably frighten Francis Bacon. What follows are a bunch of pictures I snapped wandering around the markets, with some occasional commentary.

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Ok, I promised commentary, but most of those pictures spoke for themselves–don’t you think? But here, we’ve arrived at the ham stall—the one all the way at the back of La Boqueria.

On our first day in Barcelona, I told Craig we had to try some Iberian ham. It’s the ham food lovers go crazy for–they try to sneak it back into the US and get beaten by security agents at customs, just for one last taste–the ham made from pigs fed a special diet of acorns. So here, at the back of the Boqueria, at a ham stall, I told the counter person: “Yo quiero Jamon Iberico.” Not knowing how to translate, I said: “One slice.”

She called to a man with a long knife and the man reached for a giant hanging leg of pig. I studied the leg as he began to carve and noticed that, of all the Iberian ham hanging there, this one was the most expensive: let’s say it said 110 Euros a pound.

“Oh no!” I said to Craig. “What if he cuts a really thick piece and it costs $200!!”

“Nothing you can do about it now,” counseled a wise Craig.

Well he cut a thin piece and the total came to 10 Euros. That’s about $15 for one thin slice of ham!!

But what a slice it was:

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Salty, nutty, sweet—it was worth every penny. And thus concludes our tour of the Barcelona markets, the heart and soul of Barcelona.

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