The cult of food in Barcelona begins with its markets, where you, not paying attention to the queue behind your back, slowly choose tomatoes, and ask to wrap a rabbit in a paper or clean the dorado fish and chat with the familiar sellers. «Your city Barcelona» tells about the most famous grocery «merkados» of the Catalan capital, addresses of which you need to know by heart
Mercat de La Boqueria
Address: Rambla, 91 m. Liceu
Hours: Monday-Saturday, from 08:00 to 20:30
The first mention of La Boqueria dates to early medieval times, when peasants from the neighboring villages established the custom of selling meat and vegetables by the city wall. For several centuries, La Boqueria remained an itinerant market. But in 1840, it managed to find a permanent place for itself. Where the San Josep Monastery (a refuge for barefoot Carmelites that had been erased from the face of the earth by a wild mob five years earlier – more on this below) had once stood, rows of stalls were built under the direction of the architect Mas Vilà. That’s the source of the market’s official name: the Sant Josep Market. The unofficial name may be connected with the Catalan word “vos,” meaning “goat.” But that’s just one of a number of theories. However that may be, since the end of the nineteenth century, La Boqueria has been Barcelona’s number one meal ticket. And one of its most popular attractions. Tourists are here from the crack of dawn, taking pictures of langostinos they clearly have no intention of buying. Recently the city government decided to limit their numbers at the market. The plan is to bar entry for groups of fifteen people or more on Fridays and Saturdays. Sellers will also be obliged to observe a certain balance between fresh and prepared foods. Cut fruits, for example, will have to be wrapped and sealed to prevent customers from eating them where they stand.
Mercat de Santa Caterina
Address: Av. de Francesc Cambó, 16, m. Jaume I
Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Saturday, from 07:30 to 15:30; Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, from 07:30 to 20:30
«Saint Catherine» catches the eye with its colorful multicolored roofs against the background of the gray buildings of the old Born. Almost the same age as the «Boqueria», it was founded in 1848 on the site of yet another destroyed monastery and became the first covered market in Barcelona. It’s also the first of a series of those urban «merkados» that underwent the capital repairs, which were completed in 2005. Just then, Santa Caterina, with the light hand of the designer Toni Cumella, acquired the bright mosaic roof, which coloration is designed to display a rich assortment of the Catalan products on the market’s shelves. And it shows! The market seems to be quite small, but there is a feeling that only the best fish, meat, vegetables and fruits that have passed the multistage selection come here. The wide «streets» of the product lines, the slow pace of rare buyers, the sophisticated sellers, the guard, the huge doors that are ceremoniously closing after three pm – everything has a touch of elitism, which you can experience for the price a little more expensive than in the «Boqueria».
Mercat de Sant Antoni
Address: Comte d’Urgell, 1, m. Sant Antoni
Hours: Monday-Thursday, from 07:00 to 14:30 and from 17:00 to 20:30; Friday-Saturday, from 07:00 to 20:30
Neat Catalan grandmothers with the carts on wheels go around the market rows and carefully look at the selected pork and shiny apples. Prices are much higher than in the supermarkets or others «merkados», but it doesn’t bother the real Barcelonians with their quivering attitude to their traditions. Located on the border of the raging Raval and the quietly drowsy Sant Antoni, this market, to some extent, reconciles the two of such different areas. Or reconciled in the past, while it was in its historic building – a huge modernist construction, built in 1882. Metal frame, wooden trim, the bright paint … «Sant Antoni» was born to symbolize the arrival of a new era of satiety, beauty, and well-being. In the last six years, it is a clear demonstration of how slowly repair works are carried out in Spain. Although according to the mayor’s office, its sellers don’t have to huddle for long in the temporary pavilions that occupy half of the neighboring street of Ronda Sant Antoni: the return to its original location is scheduled for the summer of 2017.
Mercat del Ninot
Address: Mallorca, 133, m. Hospital Clínic
Hours: Monday-Saturday, from 08:00 to 21:15
At the time of its inception, in 1892, Ninot was the first town market of Les Corts, which now is the common Barcelona’s area. The locals were very pleased with its appearance, and it was given a big name – Mercat de Porvenir, that is, the “Market of the Future”. However, it never caught on, but the nickname “Ninot” on the contrary, has taken root. It was the name of the nearby tavern, whose owners lured the people who came for the groceries with the cheap beer. Today, “Ninot” is, perhaps, the most rustic of the central markets. Here, you will not meet the tourists or buy the fresh orange juice, but you will learn the family recipe for snails and where it is better to go for the mushrooms. You will be serviced in Catalan, even if you look like a foreigner, and be given the sincerest smiles during the breakfast in a local bar. In Ninot, it is customary to hold the tapas contests, celebrate the Castaneda in October and congratulate with the Christmas in December. Barcelonians come here not only for the groceries but also for the communication – the scarce commodity, which is not found even in the best supermarket in the city.