Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ham, Olives, Fish & Chocolate

Produce vendor at edge of Boqueria
  “I've long believed that good food, good eating, 
is all about risk. . .food, for me, has always 
been an adventure” 
~ Anthony Bourdain

 I like to say I'm a foodie, but I have to admit that I definitely am not a foodie. I am not willing to take a risk when it comes to food.  I know what I like, what I don't like, and what makes me sick—literally and figuratively—if I eat it.  For example, foods I iike include steak (medium rare), salad with oil and vinegar, asparagus, cherry pie, and pasta. I do not like well-done steak, salad with Thousand Island dressing, brussel sprouts, mince meat pie, and bulgur.  Among the foods that make me sick are fish, onions, liver, garlic, bleu cheese, and anything else I deem gross (squid, octopus, mussels, tongue). Sorry. I just can't do it.

Produce inside Boqueria

My husband, the man who grew up in a household where the only "pasta" he had was Chef Boy-ar-dee,  is more willing to try different foods than I. The only vegetables he liked before we married were corn, beans, potatoes. Now he eats almost all of them (except brussel sprouts and onions neither of which he likes).

Mushrooms are not cheap

All of that said, I love going to markets, and the best one we've ever gone to is La Boqueria in Barcelona. Dating back to the 13th century, the current Boqueria opened in 1840 in an area on Las Ramblas, one of the city's most famous streets. At that time, it was an open-air market, but in 1914 the city installed a metal roof, and it still protects the market today.

Catalan candy (nougat)
 You will find everything in La Boqueria. Everything. Vendors sell candy, nuts, olives, fruit, fruit drinks, vegetables, vegetable drinks, Serrano ham (the Spanish prosciutto), sausages, spices, fish, wines, cheeses, and probably anything else you want.  In addition, there are stands that sell prepared foods and snacks.  There are cafes where you can grab paella or chicken or empanadas if you're hungry.

Fruit drinks are all the rage.
The Boqueria assaults your senses. There are so many colors, sounds, smells, textures, and—I'm sure—tastes under that metal roof. Mike and I walked by one of the many vendors selling fruit drinks (above) the other day, turned a corner, and the smell changed.

"Oh my goodness," I exclaimed. "GAG."

"Oh, stop," Mike said. "It's fish." (below)

"It's disgusting," I insisted, "both to smell and to look at. I'm going over there." I pointed to an area where there were no fish.  The smell was better, but I ended up in front of a meat case that had a cow tongue in it "Oh, dear God," I said.

Fish of some sort screaming at me

 We walked down that aisle, and soon Mike was complaining about the smell.

"There must be olives near here," he said.  Olives are one of the foods Mr. Adventure won't try.

"Right behind you." I pointed at them and went over to look (below). I love olives and would have bought some if they had been packaged.  I wasn't wild about seeing little gnats hovering above them.


 We walked down a couple of more aisles and found ourselves near hams and sausages (below). I love sausage and prosciutto, but I have to admit that I will be happy not to have a cured meat for some time after I get home.  I've developed some sort of aversion to them because no matter where we go, we see ham.  Barcelona even has a HAM MUSEUM.  Close to the Boqueria, the Jamon Experience  (Click that for more info.)costs 19 euros per adult. I'm not sure if you get to taste ham, but I'm not going to find out anytime soon.


Most of the ham vendors have, in addition to the honking big hams with hoofs still attached, sausages hanging in their booths.

"I'm glad I'm boycotting sausage right now," I told Mike, "although ever if I weren't we wouldn't be trying any of these things."  (below). While I've seen black sausage before (I think it was blood sausage), I've never seen green or beige.  Mike said nothing because he was turning green just looking at them.

Before we left, we checked out the candy (both photos below).

"I wonder who buys all this stuff," I said as I snapped a photo of marzipan shaped like hamburgers, hot dogs, eggs, cheese, and more.  Marzipan is one of those things I don't like.

"I have no idea," Mike answered, "but that lady is filling the empty spots, so someone must buy them.  Do you want some chocolate?"

"No, thanks." I didn't want to hurt his feelings, but I wasn't about to deprive the little gnats of their dessert, either.

 Although I was tempted by the cute chocolate porcupines (below). I just wasn't too sure what those spots on their backs were.

And I didn't want to find out they were, well, you know.

If you are interested in seeing a few videos of the Boqueria, here are links to a few I shot:

Boqueria I

Boqueria II

Boqueria iII

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