Monday, September 10, 2012
I recently had the pleasure of spending four short but intense days in the land of my ancestors, la bella España. My visit was for work, which meant that there wasn't much time to wander around and savor both the food and the culture at the leisurely pace I'm used to. Except for the odd solitary glass of wine and those memorable conversations with shop owners and producers, I had to work long hours and hop from one location to the next. Still, it was one of the most unforgettable business trips ever and I certainly came back with an incredible amount of inspiration.
There were many amazing experiences, but perhaps the one I'll remember the most is that early morning visit to the Boqueria market in the mighty Spanish city of Barcelona. Now as you've probably read in my blog, I have been to my share of markets. In fact, whenever we head somewhere new, one of the first things I do is find out when our destination (and all the places around it) hold its market days. There's no doubt in my mind that visiting markets is one of the best ways to literally get a taste of a foreign culture. What is on offer? What are the locals buying? What are they talking about? I simply love to find a new product and ask the producers for advice. How do I prepare it? What exactly is it? What kind of wine can I serve with it? Imagine what people who just head to a random supermarket are missing out on!
I dare say that La Boqueria was one of the best markets I've ever visited. The amount of color, aromas and sounds was overwhelming. A most delicious invasion of the senses! Never have I seen such magnificent food displays, from fruits and vegetables in every shape and color to seafood stalls selling the most impressive variety of oysters, lobsters and gleaming, bright-eyed fish. I walked around in a frenzy of sheer pleasure, tasting little bits as I went along or making mental notes of new recipes to try. What a shame that I couldn't fill a basket and head back to a tiny house in the countryside to cook up a little bit of heaven. There will always be another opportunity!
If there are two things you simply must try when visiting this market, than its the fruit shakes and the seafood. I treated myself to a cool, velvety blackberry and coconut shake which would put any other shake to shame. It was like a drinkable burst of healthy sunshine! Another great pleasure was sharing an oyster with one of my colleagues, who also happened to really understand food-what a joy! They were the huitre de Bouzigues- next to the Dutch flat oyster from Zeeland, the crème de la crème of the oyster world, in my honest opinion.
I can't wait to go back to La Boqueria, but in the meantime, the market has given me enough inspiration to probably last me until my next visit!
La Boqueria, Rambla, 91 08001 Barcelona