Anne Saidman is a CSA member spending several weeks of her summer in Barcelona. Thankfully the food scene there is almost as bountiful as it is here, and Anne has written in to tell us about one of the local culinary hotspots.
The Mercat de Sant Josep, known as the Boqueria, is the oldest open-air (but steel hangar-covered) market in Europe. A top recommendation in every guidebook to Barcelona, it's also where many natives buy their daily groceries.
The Boqueria is filled with stalls containing brightly illuminated and colorful displays of fruits, vegetables, meats, ham (an Iberian specialty), herbs and spices, oils, nuts, and candies. Fish and seafood have their own amphitheater at the heart of the market: from the Mediterranean Sea, unimaginably varied, often odd-looking (to this New Yorker, anyway), always fresh. Sprinkled among and surrounding the stalls are delicious restaurants and bars. There's even a farmers market in the plaza next to the Boqueria.
My favorites are Pinotxo, a small, legendary gourmet counter; marzipan; and candied almonds. Lorenc Petras, who supplies top chefs in Barcelona and much of Spain with wild mushrooms, has his Fruits del Bosc (Forest Fruits) stall at the back of the Boqueria. His book, Cocinar Con Setas (Cooking with Wild Mushrooms) is a best-seller in Spain, currently in its tenth edition.
It's no exaggeration to describe the Boqueria as a spectacular explosion of life and color, exciting, fun, and filled with good things to eat. Did I mention the marzipan?