Barcelona’s Markets & Cuisine
After a late start Lynn and Ron headed off to their first stop at St. Joseph’s Market.
On the way we went by the Christopher Columbus column. This was erected to honor the completion of Columbus’s first voyage to the new world. It was in Barcelona that Columbus reported his discoveries to his sponsors King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.
A few minutes later we reached the market. This is a large market and it was extremely crowded (because of Easter, most markets are closed starting on Good Friday and only open four days later on Tuesday).
Our guide led us to a stall where we were served a “pinxos” which is a skewer containing small bites of food. This sample contained a large shrimp wrapped in spaghetti, a fish stick, and a potato/ham croquette. All were very tasty. To wash it down, they served us a small glass of Champagne. Our guide then gave us 45 minutes of free time.
Lynn and Ron wandered through the aisles for a while until we noticed all of the tasty looking food they were selling in paper cones. One stall had seafood cones but the Iberian ham cones looked great. The cone that we bought was ham that had been shaved from some great looking legs of various flavors. The cone also contained slices of Manchego cheese. Manchego is a cheese made in the La Mancha region of Spain from the milk of sheep of the Manchega breed. It perfectly complimented the ham. In fact it did it so well that we soon bought a second cone of different hams and cheese. These turned out to be spicy but still very tasty.
While walking around Lynn and I saw a sign for “giant crickets” for sale (?). We took a closer look at the stall and realized they were selling bags of a lot of different types bugs and insects (4€ is about $5.00). They were also selling a book of recipes. It was a shame that we had eaten so much ham and cheese that we were full and decided not to buy any of these.
There were several tapas bars in the market as well (a tapa is an appetizer or snack of a small portion of any kind of Spanish food kinda like a Spanish dim sum). We could have stayed there and eaten all day but time was running out. On the way out we saw stalls that sold some great looking candied mixed nuts, olives, and, a huge variety of mushrooms.
We reboarded the bus for our journey to the next market which was only a short distance away. To get there we had to walk by some towers from old Barcelona. The bottom of the towers and arched wall was built by the Romans. The top portion was rebuilt in the 13th century. On the right of the street between the towers was the Bishop of Barcelona’s house decorated in red velvet for Easter. The Cathedral was next door.
We also noticed the artwork by Pablo Picasso entitled “El Fris del Gegants” (“The Giants”). It was designed by Picasso but carved by another artist. This is just one of many public artworks around the city.
Adorning many buildings/balconies was a red and yellow flag with a star. The flag is called “The Estelada” ( or “Senyera” without the star) and is an unofficial flag typically flown to express support for an independent Catalonia which is composed of four provinces where Catalan is traditionally spoken. Barcelona is located in one of these.
We also saw some beautifully decorated buildings along the way as well.
We finally reached the 2nd market. It was not nearly as big or crowded as the first market. There were no new food surprises here. However what it did have was archeological site of an monastery that previously existed at this location from the 13th century. The site has been carefully preserved and integrated into the market building.
We only spent about 25 minutes here and then it was off to lunch. Lunch was a series of tapas served at two restaurants with a glass of wine at each. The restaurants were located at the local beach. The first restaurant served calamari, Salomon/avocado crisp, and a ham & potato croquette. The second served a regional version of paella, potato bravas, and a skewer of squid. These were all very tasty. They also served a delicious red wine from the Nuviana vineyard called “Tinto”. We returned to the ship shortly afterward.
On the way back to the ship we saw a couple of interesting places. The first was the “Duck Store”. Who would’ve thought you could make a living from selling only rubber duckies! Later we saw a sculpture by pop artist Roy Lichtenstein call “El Cap de Barcelona” or “The Face of Barcelona”.
It’s now a little after midnight and we’re sailing past the Rock of Gibraltar. I didn’t know that it was lit up at night. This is the best picture I could get. We were about 5 miles away when we sailed past.
We have 14 more ports to visit in 19 days before we head back to Ft Lauderdale. It’s going to be difficult to keep up the blog at this pace but we’ll try. We’ll catch everything up during the final eight sea days back to the U.S.