28.02.2013 20 °C
Sitting sneakily to the side of the madness that is the renowned and infamous Ramblas, amongst all its lunacy, beauty, chaos and history is La Boquería market, one of the most popular sights of the city and one that is surely on the to-do list of every first-timer in Barcelona. Dodging and hopping, as if attempting a tribal dance, around the hoards that forever hover outside, we eventually arrive at the entrance, and are greeted by sweet and salted dangling hams in all their shapes and forms, proudly posing for endless snap-happy tourists. They looks delicious – the hams that is – and we are instantly tempted by a tapa and a tipple. But we should wait however, as there is so much more inside!
Like Willie Wonka’s factory, La Boquería is a gastronomic explosion of colours, flavours and aromas, which accompanied by an orchestral clamour and an overdose of people is a roller-coaster ride of a market. Glisteningly sticky sweets and sugar-encrusted treats fill the air with a rich bouquet which blends with exotic fragrances of herbs and spices from realms far and wide. Soon after, magnificent, brilliant fruits enter the playing field, flamboyantly displaying their vibrant shades in a shower of pomp and glory. And above, robust red chilli peppers and shining tomatoes hang from stall tops in true Mediterranean style.
The maze continues and we are presented with alluring arrangements of exquisite breads and fresh patisserie delights not forgetting endless, potent and dizzying cheeses. We stop and start, are knocked and nudged and no doubt ourselves provoke an irritation or two. But on we press through this culinary bedlam and soon stumble to the fish section – and what an abundant exhibition there is to! Mammoth prawns and twitching crabs, slithery squids and sharp pointy teeth either tempt or terrorise all who pass by, ensuring epic paellas or fishy nightmares. And speaking of nightmares we are of course in La Boquería presented with vast meat selections too – chicken and pig heads included.
This whirlwind of a marketplace is truly a love it or hate it kind of thing. Some visitors are blown away by the incredible standard and extraordinary range of products on sale, and are amazed by the vibrant colours and infinite sights and sounds produced by this theatre of cuisine. Whilst others, are simple overwhelmed and annoyed by the chaotic number of people squeezed up and down the aisles. Either way, it’s a real experience and surely one not to be missed!