Saturday, January 31, 2015

La Boqueria

How many fruits can you identify? As for me, not all of them for sure! I have no idea what those reddish brown bunch in the front are, neither the green ones on its left, the yellow ones seem to be pears but I may be totally wrong. The only thing I am certain are the strawberries! Kidding aside, I can also name those in the rear of course, for they happen to be tropical fruits. A girl from the tropics only accomplishment in this amalgamation of colorful juicy goodness.

This, among other wonderful yet curious things in the famous market, La Boqueria. Yes, we visited a market in Barcelona! How can a market be such a draw to tourists and visitors? This idea was a bit strange for me back then. When back home, a market is where you get your fresh produce (depends however at the time of day) at a lesser price than grocery stores in malls. Then, a market as an attraction? But make no mistake, I love markets. I find the thrill in going to local markets, the fact that you can do a bit of haggling, the vendors who already know you well (this applies to my mother) and just simply the buzz all around you. Of course, getting a more bang for your buck is always a good thing these days.

Maybe, that's why La Boqueria appeals to the passers by. The familiar hustle and bustle common in markets, yet you'd see the uniqueness and certain differences. And it's right smack at the center of La Rambla. Its history goes back to the 13th century. How can you not be intrigued by it?

This is the entrance of the market along La Rambla. The 100 years tells about the major restoration works in 1913. It looks inconspicuous between commercial buildings and the telltale sign of it being an entryway to the market is the stall of all kinds of cured meats. Thank goodness.

We started our day early on our third day in Barcelona and our intention was to grab our breakfast in the market. Oh no, not to buy fresh produce and cook them! Nor munch on them raw! Eek... But there are also eateries tucked in the market. But first, a quick tour around the market that just opened for the day. Not much tourists yet but mostly locals buying their everyday staples.

One thing I notice of the market are the many stalls, selling cured meats. Hams that come in all shapes and sizes! I suddenly remembered of my love for longganisa and chorizo! Hmmm, the spiciness and a bit of sweetness flavor. Yum! Cured meats must be one of the traces of Spain to us, Filipinos. Influences that have been so integrated into our everyday life, we tend to forget where they come from.

And next, unto our breakfast.

We chose an eatery almost at the back end of the market. So lucky, that a Filipino was working there. No language barrier please when one's stomach is growling. It was made easier when there were people having their breakfast as well. Good sign. More so, when the old man turning his back in the photo reminded me of my grandfather. A sentimental breakfast that was.

Our simple breakfast meal consisted with tortilla de patatas (potato omelette), pa amb tomàquet (bread with tomato) and a cup of coffee. Carbo loading galore! My cousin ordered the meat stew as additional. Orders were a breeze when you had a kababayan to help you. We exchanged stories as he continued on his work. He told us that he has already been in Barcelona for 14 years with a family left in the Philippines. I can't remember anymore if he mentioned he hasn't gone home ever since.

Barcelona was a surprise to me, having encountered kababayans such as him working in this distant land. So far away from home and knowing many of them would choose to send the money to their families rather than spending it for an expensive flight back to the other side of the world. There must be a lot of them in Barcelona when he mentioned that they have a Facebook group and so, he insisted for a picture of us together for him to post. Uhm... Ok fine. I hope somehow, he enjoys meeting Filipino visitors through his work in the market. It's like experiencing a piece of the Philippines even if it's only very fleeting. 

We bade farewell to him and went around the market for something to bring along to our day excursion outside of Barcelona. I bought a large-sized empanada (just to try the real thing and compare it with the ones I had before) and a box of raspberries because it was only €1! Raspberries are very expensive in my side of the world!

It was actually our second time in La Boqueria. The first time was on our first day but at nighttime. Most of the stalls were however, already closed and we were up against the tourist crowds, doing last minute purchases. Here are photos I managed to take. Please don't blame me if you will have cravings after.

Now, I fully understand why La Boqueria is a market that is worth a visit. Yes, it can become touristy but if you can go there in the morning when the market's noise is mostly made by vendors setting up their trade, men delivering goods and locals buying their needs, the busy scene would be a pleasure to see. But that's me, a local market fan.

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