Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Mercat Santa Caterina in Barcelona


The name of the photographer, who shot the poster photo directly above, is unknown so I cannot give credit nor thanks. Still, I think the roof needs to be shown, since it is the nicest feature of the mercato. I kept reading on the Internet how expensive La Boqueria was, so before I went back there, I decided to locate the other famous mercato in Barrio Gotic, named Santa Caterina. After being quoted a price per pound for porcini mushrooms that was double what was clearly written on the neighboring stall, it occurred to me that this market was not necessarily tourist friendly. With this experience clearly in mind, special attention was paid to stalls that had marked prices and I all but ignored those that didn’t.

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I don’t  recall ever seeing produce being sold from a refrigerated case before, but this produce was lovingly groomed and attended by greengrocers who appreciated the quality of what they were selling and wanted their patrons to know how special it was. They were making a good case for the reason they were not offering bargain prices. There were more exotic fruits than I had expected, including the shocking pink dragon fruit with the round, black seeds. The mushrooms were virtually unknown to me except for the porcini. Even though I had a kitchen at my disposal, I didn’t buy any, and in retrospect, regret the failed opportunity, especially since I had rented an apartment expressly for the purpose of cooking local ingredients that I may never have tasted before.


The market was large, clean and had a great diversity of goods that it was selling. It would be difficult to not find what you were looking for amongst all the stalls and shops. In the photos above you can see wine, deli items, prepared foods to go, saffron, nuts and dried fruits, fresh spices and seeds. There was a good selection of olive oils and paprika made by many different companies. Marcona almonds, a Spanish delicacy, were in short supply and that surprised me although with a price over 23 euros for a kilo, how many vendors would want to invest in them?

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Bacalla was king, but shellfish and other fish still had a presence here. Spanish cheese seemed well represented as did the olives with so many to choose from. The meat looked rich and red, but I don’t know if it was aged. Beef in Europe never seems as good as what we find here at home with the exception of Chianina beef from Tuscany in Italy.   


Along the front side of the market building were many small restaurants and cafes. Vendors were going in for a quick snack or coffee and it appeared that many people knew one another. As tourists, we were really fish out of water here, but the service was pleasant and we felt comfortable. After seeing the dragon fruit, and all the fruit drinks for sale at the market I decided to try strawberry mixed with coconut milk. Just as we were leaving, it started raining so we took cover and had a tea and a latte. The coffee was robust.

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