Over the years, la Boqueria has become the most emblematic market in Barcelona and one of the most famous of the entire Europe. It features everything from savory souvenirs to gourmet specialties, and from fresh local veggies and seafood to food bars to taste them. It is an outstanding experience, in itself, and a place that both tourists and locals widely enjoy.
La Boqueria Market opened on Saint Joseph’s day, on the 19th of March 1840 and is, since then, a market for fresh food and freshly prepared food. We usually take a good hour to wander the aisles and highlight the diversity of the place (Full Spanish Breakfast at la Boqueria is the first step, out of 4, that we take during our the Taste of Barcelona Tour).
There are all sorts of vendors, here: of veggies, fruit, candy, dried fruit, nuts, eggs, seafood, fish and of course meat: cow, rabbit, duck, goat, lamb, chicken, pork. Due to its dimension, diversity of offer as well as influx of tourists, a brief reading before the visit might come in handy. If you’re eager to explore on your own, this is a link I find very useful to check before your first visit.
Among the many types of tomatoes one can find in the market, there’s the Montserrat one, Catalonia’s heritage tomato, named after the holy mountain of Catalonia and Our Lady of Montserrat, patroness of the region where it has been grown for generations in El Vallès. Considered one of the prettiest tomatoes, the Montserrat’s flawless, undulating form seems carved from red wax while slices of its sweet, juicy flesh have a floral design. Perfect for stuffing and baking, the Montserrat is also delicious in salads with Figueres onions and white beans, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.
Since 1868, now at its 6th generation, the brand of Joselito keeps one of the highest quality standards when it comes to jamon, as well as any other traditional specialty. It is one of the chef’s most acclaimed product: Ferran Adria, for instance, says that “the jamon Joselito is a constant source of inspiration for all of us who love gastronomy.”
The beginnings of Mas Gourmets go back to 1945, when Joan Mas Navarro and his wife opened a small establishment that also served the triple purpose of grocer’s shop, warehouse and dwelling. The couple gradually acquired new premises in which they wagered on a system that was completely different from that of the competitors of the time.
There are several places in the market selling local farms’ organic and tasty eggs – hen as well as quail and oyster.
Fresh lobsters, prawns, langoustines or goose barnacles are just a few of the sea delicacies available on daily basis at la Boqueria.
Some of the Market Specialties
Here are only a few of the many wonders we pass by, as well as taste. Still, even if we go there quite often, there are always new stories to share, seasonal veggies and fruit to arrive, specific dishes and sweets to try only in certain times of the year…
Some of the Market Food Bars
There is also a generous number of tapas bars spread among the stalls. They use fresh ingredients right from the sellers, and mix tastes from all regions of the peninsula.
Quim Márquez has 25 years of kitchen experience. Here he uses only the sea food, the fish, the veggies and the fruits of la Boqueria market. The menu includes Starters and Tapas, an eggs section (Start the Day with Two Fried Eggs!), the Specialties, Grilled Fish, Sandwiches (served until noon) and Homemade Desserts.
Quim (the chef you see right in the middle of the pic) shares a bit from the story of the place, on the website: A few lines to explain you how I arrived at the Mercat de la Boqueria in August 1987. I bought a small bar with a 3 meter-long counter and five stools. It was hidden just opposite the main entrance. For sure it was not the best place in the market but I was really excited. The very first days it seemed a huge market, real impressive. I felt dizzy with the idea that I was part of that Paradise of food. It was and still is, a small village inside the big city.
“I want my place to be a meeting point of cultures and tastes with a unique devotion: gastronomy. A place where you can taste real market food from La Boqueria market. She has been the mother of “Quim de la Boqueria” and working here daily I want to return all she has given to me” – that’s what motivates Quim.
the History of the Market
The market was built as a large portico square with Ionic columns under which the travelling tradesmen of the city could offer their varied products. Marquis Campo Sagrado, Catalonia’s general captain, started to establish the rules for this travelling market in an area that became a large square after the convent was gone. With time the Boqueria Market of Barcelona transformed itself in a modern market. A few years later, in 1914, it incorporated the gas illumination and a metal roof designed by the engineer Miquel de Bergue was added.
The market and its surroundings have been restored in recent years to the way they were in the early 20th century.
On St. Joseph’s day in 1840, the first stone of the market of la Boqueria was placed. In 1848 an enclosure for the fish monger’s shop behind the palace of the Virreina was constructed. In 1861 some of the fruit and vegetable traders were allowed to settle provisionally at Plaza Sant Agustí and it was from this point that la Rambla was to be kept exclusively for flower stands.
Many salesmen gave out a flower for the purchase of some of their products. The sale of flowers increased. In 1863 the retail places of fruits and vegetables settled underneath the porches. In 1869, the convent of Jerusalem, located behind the market, was demolished to allow for an extension to be built. In the Christmas of 1871, the gas lighting was introduced to the market. In 1911 the fishmonger’s shop was built. In 1914 the market with the metal roof was inaugurated. From there, it began to modernize and to improve, not only at a sanitary level, but also aesthetic, and decorative.