I’ve long believed that good food, good eating, is all about risk…Food for me has always been an adventure.
(Revised and reprinted from my old blog 9/2014.)
I like to think that I’m a foodie, but I have to admit that I definitely am not a foodie. I am not willing to take too many risks when it comes to what goes into my mouth. I know what I like, what I don’t like, and what makes me sick—literally and figuratively—if I eat it. For example, foods I like include pasta (almost all kinds), hamburgers, steak (medium rare), salad (with oil and vinegar), asparagus, and fruit pies. I do not like well-done steak, salad with Thousand Island dressing, peppers, liver, mince meat pie, and bulgur. Among the foods that make me sick are onions, garlic, bleu cheese, and anything else I deem gross (squid, octopus, tongue). Sorry. I just can’t do it.
My husband, the man who grew up in a household where the only “pasta” he had was from a can and the only vegetables he ate were corn, bean, and potatoes, is more willing to try different foods than I. He’s had octopus and squid, rabbit and oysters, and escargot and other foods I don’t (purposely) remember because, quite frankly, the thought gets me sick.
All of that said, I love going to markets, and one of the best one we’ve ever gone to is La Boqueria in Barcelona. Dating back to the 13th century, the current Boqueria opened in 1840 in an area on Las Ramblas, one of the city’s most famous streets. At that time, it was an open-air market, but in 1914 the city installed a metal roof which still protects the market today.
You will find everything in La Boqueria. Everything. Vendors sell candy, nuts, olives, fruit, fruit drinks, vegetables, vegetable drinks, Serrano ham (the Spanish prosciutto), sausages, spices, fish, wines, cheeses, and probably anything else you want. In addition, there are stands that sell prepared foods and snacks. There are cafes where you can grab paella or chicken or empanadas if you’re hungry.
The Boqueria assaults your senses. There are so many colors, sounds, smells, textures, and—I’m sure—tastes under that metal roof. Mike and I walked by one of the many vendors selling fruit drinks (above) the other day, turned a corner, and the smell changed.
“Oh my goodness,” I exclaimed. “GAG.”
“Oh, stop,” Mike said. “They’re fish.”
“They screaming at me,” I screamed at him. “Besides, they’re disgusting both to smell and to look at.” I think I was waving my arms in the air. “I’m going over there.” I pointed to an area where there were no fish. The smell was better, but I ended up in front of a meat case that had a cow tongue in it “Oh, dear God,” I said. “I’m going to faint.” Mike rolled his eyes.
We walked down that aisle, and soon Mike was complaining about the smell.
“There must be olives near here,” he said. Olives are one of the foods Mr. Adventure won’t try.
“Right behind you.” I pointed at them and went over to look. I love olives and would have bought some if they had been packaged. I wasn’t wild about seeing little gnats hovering above them.
We walked down a couple of more aisles and found ourselves near hams and sausages (below). I love sausage and prosciutto, but I have to admit that I will be happy not to have a cured meat for some time after I get home. I’ve developed some sort of aversion to them because no matter where we go, we see ham. Barcelona even has a HAM MUSEUM. Close to the Boqueria, the Jamon Experience (Update 2018: I’ve read that it is now closed.) costs 19 euros per adult. I’m not sure if you get to taste ham, but I’m not going to find out anytime soon.
Most of the ham vendors have, in addition to the honking big hams with hoofs still attached, sausages hanging in their booths.
“I’m glad I’m boycotting sausage right now,” I told Mike, “although ever if I weren’t we wouldn’t be trying any of these things.” While I’ve seen black sausage before (I think it was blood sausage), I’ve never seen green or beige. Mike said nothing because he was turning green just looking at them.
I was ready to check out the sweet stuff.
“I wonder who buys all this candy,” I said as I snapped a photo of marzipan shaped like hamburgers, hot dogs, eggs, cheese, flip-flops, hats, and more. Marzipan is one of those things I don’t like.
“I have no idea,” Mike answered, “but that lady is filling the empty spots, so someone must buy them. Do you want some chocolate?” I think he didn’t see the gnats enjoying their dessert.
“No, thanks.” Although I was tempted by the cute chocolate porcupines, I just wasn’t too sure what those spots on their backs were.
And I didn’t want to find out they were, well, you know.