If the kitchen is the centre of the home, La Boqueria in Barcelona's Las Ramblas is the same social hub on a much grander and colourful scale. These bustling markets are where the Catalan people congregate to eat, shop and gossip on a daily basis where the atmosphere is a feast for all the senses, not just your appetite.
Renowned Catalan chef and culinary scientist Ferran Adria of El Bulli restaurant fame calls La Boqueria, 'a gastronomic temple' and foodies who worship at the altar of gourmet grub will not be disappointed by the spectacle and produce on offer at these markets. With origins as an open-air market circa 1200, La Boqueria is now located in the pedestrian mall known as Las Ramblas. The space was formerly a convent and the Ionic columns you can spy around the neoclassical square from when the Sant Josep convent was demolished were only discovered among the throng of the busy market in 2001. Also known as Mercat de Sant Josep, these vibrant markets house over 15 different types of stalls purveying everything from offal and charcuterie through to fruit and veg.
The sensory shopping experience begins with a wall of multicoloured produce as well as provedores of poultry, game and eggs; fishmongers, charcuterie, meat and offal suppliers; dry fruits, olives and preserves; legumes and cereals plus many other Spanish specialties. Be aware that the mix can also offer confronting sights such as pig heads and animal innards among more desirable destinations such as the Xocolatl chocolate stall and the artisan ice-cream at Pastisseria Nissim. The markets are also dotted with mini bars where you can prop yourself up and enjoy local delights such as chocolate con churros, coffee and tapas. Just stroll around and take the theatre and aromas of the market in.
Feeling inspired to whip up an epicurean feast? The Boqueria Food School combines theory with practice offering courses taught by chefs and sommeliers, plus a classroom for kids in the kitchen and master chefs in the making. To visit La Boqueria, the closest Metro station is Liceu. Entry is free, but it’s up to you how many euros you spend on mouth-watering morsels!