Barcelona is a great destination any time of the year, the fame of this city is well earned. A progressive city with people that takes pride of their region and their liberal thinking, art, architecture, design, sun and beach make this place a key destination for a very diverse kind of travelers. A city full of history and heritage that offers the most complete itineraries for families, backpackers or students.
But above all Barcelona can be discovered through food, its history supports its gastronomy which is very rich in ingredients and imagination.
The colors found in the markets with fruits, dried chiles or the most diverse cuts of meat and fishes are a reflection of the color saturated landscapes when contemplating the city. The traditional bars along Las Ramblas reveal the customs of the people while the contemporary restaurants connect with the progressive thinking that doesn’t forget the identity of the Barcelonian.
La Boquería urban market.
A good starting point when traveling is to visit urban markets and witness the relationship between local people and food, these places are where they acquire staples necessary to live, generally they have a lot of history behind and obviously are full of traditions.
The movements, social interaction between merchants and clients or the people themselves, ingredients and sounds make this spots great places to figure out one of the faces of Barcelonians culture. As you can imagine you can’t have this experience in a regular and globalized supermarket.
Noise, colors, difficulty to walk due to crowded people, spices, dried chillis, fruits, vegetables, diverse kinds of meat and the wet floor that gets colder as you approach the seafood area are the first things that I notice and remind me the markets back home.
The cultural connection between Barcelonians and Mexicans are very clear at least in this matter. The familiarity in the interaction with the merchants, people eating heavy breakfast in the morning, the colors of fresh fruits and vegetables are some aspects that brought me back to a familiar ambient. But above all, the cuisine with its spiced cooking made me feel like home.
The spirit of La Boquería can be explained through one specific place called El Quim which is a little tapas restaurant that is located in the center of the market and surrounded by a fresh fruit and spices stalls –both local and international- but the remarkable aspect of its location is the proximity to a butchery spot because this is a reflection of the close relationship between Barcelonians and food. It’s not easy for every culture to eat with the risk of turning your head and look a lamb’s face or the stomach of a cow which is the main ingredient for cooking “callos” a delicious and traditional dish. This is a cultural aspect that you get used to only when grow up with it.
The highlight of this tapas restaurant is the concept behind it, a restaurant in the middle of an urban market, the menu which is representative of catalunian cuisine and the space it occupies, with no more than a couple of square meters where more than 5 people not only cook but serve the requests of each client.
With only a few places to sit and with the counter in front of you is easy to be amazed with the cook’s magic, the rest of the clients simply eat standing up, which is not a problem at all for the Barcelonians or even for great personalities like Ferran Adrià whose photo you can see hanging below El Quim’s big menu board. Bull’s tail, fresh cod, eggs with shrimps or caramelized foie gra, “callos” (cow’s stomach) or chorizo sandwich are some of the specialties that can be served during the breakfast.
Definitely La Boqueria urban market with El Quim inside it’s the perfect way to start a trip through the city.