To discover the soul of the Barcelonans, it’s best to eat one’s way through Barcelona. From farmhouse cheese to molecular gastronomy, the versatile flavours of Catalonian cuisine tell the turbulent story of the region. The Visigoths, the Moors and the French have all occupied this fertile area on the Mediterranean Sea over the past centuries, and they have all left their mark as the tastes in Barcelona’s markets make clear.
The city has more than 40 markets, serving a very choosy clientele. Whole families come out to inspect freshly caught cod or haggle over some delicious jamón ibérico. The Catalonians get their inspiration from sun-ripened tomatoes, sheep’s cheese and chorizo, and recipes are passed from person to person. A walk through the markets of Barcelona will definitely tempt you to try one of the delicacies. Bon profit!
It's always very busy in La Boqueria on La Rambla, one of the largest covered produce markets in Europe. The chefs from Barcelona’s best restaurants make their purchases here every morning. It's easy to get lost among the hundreds of stalls with ham, olives and fresh fish – just let it happen! And in many stalls you can taste the delicacies on offer. If you’re looking for something specific, ask at the information centre for a handy map (booth 435 near the back) which will show you exactly what each stall specialises in.
Spain boasts a number of delicious types of ham such as jamón serrano and jamón ibérico. The latter is often popularly called pata negra or ‘black hoof’. This is because this cured ham is made from black Iberian pigs. The nutty flavour of the ham comes from the acorns they eat – these voracious animals can consume up to 10 pounds per day. Jamón serrano means ‘mountain ham’ and is made from white pigs from the Andalusian sierra.
Fish fans should set course for the neighbourhood of Barceloneta next to the old port, where for over a century, fishermen have been selling their fresh catch of the day. The discerning buyer can choose from countless possibilities including cuttlefish, razor shells and shrimp of all types and sizes. And if you can’t wait to eat fresh seafood, then visit one of the many local restaurants – it doesn’t get any fresher than this. The Barceloneta market isn’t only of gastronomic interest: don’t miss the extraordinary cast-iron window frames. The building by Antoni Rovira i Trias, dating back to 1884, was completely renovated a few years ago.
With delightful products such as figs, scallops and other delicacies so richly available, real cooking enthusiasts won’t be able to resist the temptation to prepare something tasty for themselves. You can join one of several cooking courses in Barcelona, with a Spanish chef teaching you all the tricks of the trade. After a tour of the market, you’ll make typical Spanish dishes such as paella or gazpacho, all while enjoying a delicious cava.