If there is one thing in the world that I’m good at, it is eating. After coming back from our Latin American trip I gained like a gazillion pounds because I was back in the culinary heaven of Austin, Texas.
It was in Barcelona that I fell in love with the amazingness that are local food tours. If anything gives you insight to a culture, it is the culinary and gastronomic delights that you can find.
Normally I despise getting up early. We were roused from our beds in our rad Barcelona apartment much before 10am – but my spirits were high. HouseTrip sent us out to enjoy the “Farm to Fork, the Boqueria and Beyond” tour with Context Travel Tours.
…and in true Over Yonderlust fashion, it was raining cats and dogs.
Our guide Albert was AWESOME. Not only was my mind blown with ideas and concepts about food, but it was probably the most comprehensive presentation of the history of Catalonian food I have or will ever receive. We were encouraged to ask questions and on occastion, a lively discussion would occur over disagreements in international culinary culture. I was fascinated.
I didn’t know it was that intense. I just like to eat things. They feel good in my belly.
We started at La Boqueria – the main and most well known market in Barcelona. At 170 years old, this has been an institution in the history of Spanish markets. Most of the high rated restaurants within the city source their meat and produce from here every morning. In between chefs, you find old abuelitas and young adults grabbing their good for the day. This place was hopping and very obviously important.
The one interesting thing to know about Catalonian cuisine is that there are three main types of food: Mountain, Orchard, and Marina.
We went to try some meat and cheese first. Did I mention that Europe seems to be the land of cured meats? Shaun has been in heaven since we arrived with his weird salami addiction. I did feel bad for the vegetarians in the group – so much of Spanish culture is based off meat. The basic salami and goat cheese was heaven in my mouth. Although, I was eyeing the jamon Iberico (but at $2000 for one leg, that wasn’t going to happen) while drooling over myself.
Did I mention that we love meat?
Olives are an important staple in Catalan when it comes to their cuisine. We stopped by an olive counter but apparently in my ravaged state (I got olive crazy eye?) I devoured the bag as quickly as I could and forgot to take a picture.
They came in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and flavors. They were delicious. You’re just going to have to believe me.
But here is a picture of Dave from The Planet D photo-bombing me while I’m waiting for said olives.
We meandered our way into the fish market and it was packed! Everything was freshly sourced from the Mediterranean and the catches of the day were all shapes and sizes. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much variety from one area.
An “old world” staple of Barcelona is the salted cod. Think of it like cured meat. Before there were refrigerators salt was the way to preserve your meat through the harsh winters. Now, we’ve had salted cod before but for some reason I couldn’t get over seeing the “before”. Good lord that is a lot of salt.
With the return of the rain brings in a new season of food – mushrooms. I am a bit sad that we didn’t get to see the bins overflowing but they were still beautiful.
…and snails but I’m not going to talk about that. Still gives me the creeps.
We moved our way onto our next “course”: CHOCOLATE.
If any of you have been with us awhile, you know that I fully believe that chocolate should be its own food group.
While I am still convinced of the superiority of Latin American chocolate, I’m still a fan of the presentation. Gold flakes, red lips, small bows – these were beautiful.
And Albert saved what I thought was the best for last. One of the really cool things about being in a city as old as Barcelona is that you have companies that have been in business for 100+ years. Families pass down their knowledge and artisan skills for food and gourmet items.
This is when we came across E&A Gispert, a family owned store that roasts their own nuts. Holy moley these were the most delicious pistachios and macadamias I had ever had in my life hands down. They have the roaster inside the store and we even got to get a quick peek at it.
The one thing that blew my mind was their dried strawberries. Sorry, but I have to say that my stomach > pictures and I devoured them all without even considering taking a picture. I highly suggest grabbing a few while you’re there as it will only set you have a couple of euros. Oh, and some macadamia nuts. Or, well, anything really.
Everyone inside was so helpful and super personable – a rarity for Europe – and are totally willing to help you make the best decision for what you are looking for while in there.
I’ve included a map below since I’ve noticed that so many places that are mentioned in blog posts don’t have maps. I hope this helps out!
We finished our tour beaming. And while we may not be in Barcelona now, my stomach starts growling when I think of La Boqueria and just all the amazing food we were able to try. I’m not going to try and be a food blogger but I can totally understand why some people get into it. What are some of your favorite food and market experiences?
Disclosure: This trip was sponsored by the awesome guys from HouseTrip.com, however all opinions are our own.