The reigning queen of Barcelona’s vibrant market network, La Boqueria attracts Michelin-starred chefs and local grandmothers equally. As the center of the city food scene and epicenter of Catalan gastronomy, La Boqueria offers an unparalleled opportunity to experience the sites, smells, and tastes of culinary Barcelona. During this three-hour walk, we’ll explore the market and its surroundings, tracing the history of food in this culinary city, and getting a basic overview of regional Catalan gastronomy.
We begin at the intersection of Carrer de la Boqueria and La Rambla, the ancient seat of La Boqueria, which was founded in the 13th century, making it one of Europe’s oldest markets. As we head toward the modern market, which has been relocated to a modern glass and steel structure nearby, we’ll discuss the long history of public markets in this city, from the medieval period to their revitalization in the 1990s.
We’ll spend the majority of our time together under the glistening canopy of La Boqueria itself, where we will sample typical dishes at such famed tapas bars as Pinotxo or El Quim. We’ll venture into the briny, wet stands area, stopping to examine freshly hunted wild mushrooms or to inhale the salty aromas of cured jamon and embotits. Along the way, our docent, a trained food critic and historian, will explain some of the origins and provenance of these foods against the backdrop of Catalonia’s rich culinary history and diverse geography.
Catalan cuisine is as innovative as it is economical: No part of the animal is thrown out. Unusual combinations like rabbit with snails (conejo con caracoles) or pigs feet with nuts and peas (pies de cerdo con piñones y guisantes) illustrate the experiments of ancient Catalan cooks. From this lineage of contrasting flavor profiles and economical exploits, Catalonia leads the world in culinary innovation, boasting many Michelin star restaurants and forging new frontiers with the wildly popular molecular gastronomy.
The final leg of the walk will take us out of La Boqueria into the stone streets of El Raval where we’ll visit a couple of specialty food shops and pass by several notable restaurants in the burgeoning culinary scene of Barcelona. We’ll pay particular attention to neighborhood restaurants that specialize in “market cuisine” in order to highlight the dialogue between market and restaurant, produce and chef. We will stop briefly to discuss the role of seasonality and the continued globalization of our food markets. Depending on the time of day, our walk will end at either Granja Viader, a local "dairy" that serves the afternoon merienda of chocolate, or the famous bakery Escriba, two deeply rooted Catalonian institutions that will serve to punctuate our experience.