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Mastering the Mercado

0 Comments 16 January 2011

Mastering the Mercado

A visit to Barcelona’s “mercados” or fresh food markets is an essential experience. It’s not only where the best produce, meat, fish and cheese can be found, but where everyday life is transformed into a colorful and fascinating work of art.


DPSCamera_0546Top Markets
1. La BoqueriaFrom ostrich eggs to dragon fruit – simply amazing! (District: Plaza Catalunya)
2. Santa Caterina The modern take on the market & foodie paradise (District: El Born)
3. Sant Antoni – Off the beaten path; flea market included (District: Sant Antoni)


The markets are usually open from early morning until 20:30h. Some vendors may close from 14:00-17:00h.

Fresh for a reason!
The best fruits and vegetables are those in season and the mercados in Barcelona tend to sell just that. So it´s possible that you may not be able to find strawberries in the winter.

Looking for something special or out of season?
Check out the legendary La Boqueria off La Rambla for oddities, imports and out of season items.

How to Order
A common phrase used to order is “¿Me pondría (medio kilo de manzanas) por favor?” or “I would like (half a kilo of apples) please”. See the following conversion chart if you aren’t familiar with metric weights. One Pound is equivalent to about 1/2 Kilogram. Inversely, 1 Kilogram is equivalent to 2.2 Pounds. You can order by pieces as well (i.e “six apples” or “seis manazanas”).

Where’s the line?
Like most busy places in Barcelona, you’ll find that there is no apparent line—just a group of people waiting. In this case, it is best to ask who is last in line or “¿quién es el último?”. When it is your turn to order, be ready to respond “yo!” (“me”) when the vendor yells out “¿quién va?” or “who’s next?”.

Watch Granny!
Not only is it good to observe what the true masters of the mercado order—a great indication of what is in season—but to watch that they don’t steal your spot in line. If you´ve got an aggressive granny on your tail, when it comes to your turn, you can be more assertive by raising your arm and responding “Ahora voy yo!” (it is MY turn) when the vendor asks who is next or “Quién va?”.

Get a Taste of the Market
Sample the seasonal offerings with a fresh and tasty lunch in the center of the action. You can usually find tapas bars, take out and restaurants scattered throughout the mercados, but be sure to arrive before peak hours (13:00-15:00h) to avoid a long wait.

Seasonal Guide for Fruits and Vegetables

Chestnuts / Castañas
Grapefruit / Pomelo
Leek / Puerro
Lemon / Limón
Orange / Naranja
Mandarin Orange / Mandarina
Clementine / Clementina


Apricot / Albaricoque
Artichoke / Alcachofa
Asparagus / Espárragos
Avocado / Aguacate
Carrot / Zanahoria
Mango / Mango
Pineapple / Piña
Spinach / Espinacas
Strawberries / Fresas
Peas / Guisantes


Beets / Remolacha
Broccoli / Brócoli
Corn / Maíz
Cucumber / Pepino
Eggplant / Berenjena
Green Beans / Alubias Verdes
Nectarine / Nectarina
Níspero / Medlar
Peach / Melocotón
Plum / Ciruela
Tomato / Tomate
Watermelon / Sandía
Zucchini / Calabacín


Squash / Calabaza
Apple / Manzana
Cauliflower / Coliflor
Celery / Apio
Fig / Higo
Grapes / Uvas
Mushrooms / Champiñones
Wild Mushrooms / Setas
Parsnip / Chirivía
Turnip / Nabo
Pear / Pera
Pomegranate / Granada
Pumpkin / Calabaza
Sweet Potatoe / Batata

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