This blog is a collaborative effort. Much like our cafe which is a labour of love by Sunil and me, we hope our blog reflects our individual tastes and joint passion for the good things in life. While confectionary and a well stocked supermarket can get my pulse racing, it takes something totally different to make Sunil happy. I hand over the reigns of the blog to him today to share one of his favourite travel and food experiences…
Rambling on the Ramblas
The Ramblas in Barcelona is a wide central boulevard which cuts through the heart of Barcelona’s city center. Las Ramblas is lined with tourist shops selling tat, food stalls tempting you with chocolates and snacks, and tapas bars where you can while away an afternoon people watching. However, two thirds into your exploration of the Ramblas, look to your left and you will glimpse an arched gateway made of iron. This is La Bouqeria aka foodie heaven.
Being a pork lover in India has always been a deprived sort of existence. Eating any kind of pork or pork product always comes with warnings, “beware of worms” and various other unappetising statements. Let’s not even talk about the quality of locally produced cold cuts . The quality and taste of which leaves me in a state of total and utter despair.
So you can imagine my delight when I walked into La Boqueria, the massive food market in Barcelona. For me, it was like entering paradise and when I say paradise I refer to one certain section of the market. Yes, you guessed it – the pork section. As I entered this age old structure which still retained its original design, my jaw dropped in awe. Row after row, stall after stall of perfectly displayed fruits, meats, vegetables, and so much more. As I turned a corner, it was like I had reached the pearly gates of heaven. Pork products of every shape, size and type lined one wall. The choices on offer defied the limits of imagination.
Not just the sausages and salami that one sees in every supermarket or deli, but whole haunches of ham and more. Sausages that ran the colour of the spectrum, all the way from white to pink to yellow to black (I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some blues and greens too). It was a meat fest to end all meat feasts. Even Obelix would have been thrilled.
For a while, all I did was look in stunned silence. I wanted to buy a little of everything but really didn’t know where to begin. Seeing my indecision (and hopefully not my ignorance) the guy behind the counter chirped up – “Eengelez?” To which I replied with a timid “Si.” When I told him that I was looking for some good ham, he launched into a lengthy explanation about some of the divine haunches on display.
Turns out that you can differentiate between wild pigs and farm raised ones by the colour of the little trotters. The pink ones belong to farm raised piggies and the black ones belong to the wild piggies. The blackish colours he attributed to the wild ones frolicking about in the forests and hills. Happy piggies = yummier pork it seemed.
You could even buy a cone of Serrano ham or salami for a buck, just to keep body and soul together while you shopped. Needless to say, I ended up with a substantial stash of jamon Serrano (ham from the mountain) and the more expensive jamon Iberico (made from those black Iberian trotters). All my dreams were on their way to being fulfilled.
One of the things that I really love about the shops in Europe is the attention paid to detail in the displays. Take this one for example…
I would want to shop there just to have a closer look at those happy piggy figurines!
I could go on and on about the different types of cold cuts and sausages, but La Boqueria is a lot more than just pork (sacrilegious as that may sound). So while Melanie went wine hunting, I scouted for some cheese (because ham, wine cheese & bread are all one really needs for a perfect meal). Plenty of choices there…
All that hard work was making us thirsty so our next stop was the fruit and vegetable section where we each had some fresh fruit juice. Fortified by the kiwi and watermelon juices, we realised that our trip would be incomplete without some sweets and chocolates, so we followed our noses to an aisle full of chocolate and other confectionary shops.
La Boqueria was definitely one of the high points of our visit to Barcelona. For a pork lover like me, it was like a direct line to paradise. You can book a food tour of the market if you prefer a little more structure to your exploration or simply do what we did – turn up at the market as close to opening time as possible and eat your way through the stalls until lunch time 🙂
For more information on La Bouqeria and food tours at the market you can check the following sites: