Before coming abroad, I heard many great things about Barcelona, the beautiful architecture, the beautiful beaches, and the fresh meats, fruits, and foods that are found all over Barcelona. Attending school right next to Las Ramblas, I began to hear all about this La Boqueria place, which means market, that was right down the road from school. It being so close I decided to take a walk down there and came to realize how natural and unique of a market it was, having so many random fresh food stands.
La Boqueria is one of Europe’s largest and most famous food markets. It became a place shop dating all the way back to 1217, which is when farmers would come and set up stalls and sell their food and supplies.
In 1998, was when the remodeling by architects Lluís Clotet and Ignacio Pariciobegan to make La Boqueria a covered place, but not enclosed fully, which it still looks that way to this day. Lastly, worked on was 2015 when they added 1,000 m^2 in the surface area of the market. This included more stalls and more areas to load and unload operations. In 2005, the Boqueria received the title as the Best Market in the World and has become a large attraction to tourists of Barcelona, but also locals who are interested in getting fresh produce. The Boqueria is open everyday from 8:00 am- 8:30 pm. La Boqueria is closed on Sunday’s.
Having almost 1,000 stands, La Boqueria offers you a variety of all different kinds of fresh products sold at very unbeatable prices. The websitewalks you through every single stand and shows you what it has, and where exactly itis. La Boqueria brings people together, locals and tourists all finding themselves in this location in amazement of all of the freshness and variety of options they can choose from. This market is so big that it attracts over 40,000 visitors a day.
This market was voted best food market in the world by CNN. “Green markets, farmers’ markets, fresh markets, wet markets — whatever you call them, these are the places that make Walmart, Tesco and other supermarket chains look like crimes against cuisine” Said CNN.
I ran into a local Spanish woman named Maria Gonzalez, with two of her children while visiting La Boqueria on Friday. She said that tourists think of the market as a tourist place to come get a meal at and explore while she comes once a week to pick up groceries. She also explained to me that it is a nice and welcoming place for children, “I reward my children every other Friday with a bag of candy from the stand, it is there favorite treat. They also provide a park for the children to play at while us adults gets our shopping done” said Gonzalez. Gonzalez also explains that when she comes to the Boqueria she has to think about what she wants to cook for the week. Golzalez says she likes to make meat and vegetables usually but she likes to plan accordingly.
The layout of the Boqueria entices the potential customer and allows them to see the food shown in an esthetically pleasing way. All the food is laied out in an organized way and they only display the best of the best produce. The layout also increases product visibility which allows the customers to see the stands on all four sides.
What is also interesting is that the Boqueria has its own self-sustaining economy. In that the goods that are sold there are sold for the price specific to the customers. This is opposed to a traditional supermarket where prices are based on a multitude of factors.
In La Boqueria there are many different stands inside like fish, fresh fruit, meats, seafood, vegetables, dried fruit, nuts, eggs, candy, and traditional Spanish hams. You can also get traditional Spanish food like tapas or empanadas. There are many different fillings inside the empanadas like spinach and cheese or ham and cheese. Spain also produces around 40 million hams per year and they are known to be some of the best in the world. Hams are usually hung so the fats drip towards the bottom, making the ham cure best. As for the vegetables, there are exotic fruits like dragon fruits and kumquats. Also, in the Boqueria, one can find authentic hot sauces and chili spices. All the meat in the Boqueria is fresh and the fish sits on ice to keep it cold. You can find tuna, salmon, shrimp or even sea urchins, crabs, clams, and mussels. The Boqueria also has some grab and go food. Some of pre-made options include salads, sandwiches and quiches. There are also a large assortment of beverages like fresh juices, coffee, teas, and wine.
Tips when entering the Boqueria:
There are many things a buyer should know before entering the Boqueria. First off, it is important that you keep your bag and wallet close by, pickpocketing is very common inside the Boqueria. Next, it is important that beforehand you go to an ATM and withdraw euros, most of the vendors take only cash and do not take cards. It is important to have cash on you when you go! Around closing time, 8:30 when vendors are packing up their produce, you can find the best deals on their items. Sometimes at closing time, you are able to bargin with them. When you are looking at items inside the Boqueria, be sure not to touch them and ask the vendors for assistance. Vendors do not like when people touch their produce. A lot of the vendors speak mostly Spanish
Why the Boqueria?
The Boqueria is a completely different experience than a regular supermarket. It is more interactive and allows locals and tourists to explore fresh produce. Also, this market shows how the people of Barcelona appreciate and prioritize fresh produce. Going to the Boqueria is an immersive experience and draws not only locals but tourists.