I was invited on a new food tour by Marwa. A former Londoner like me, with a Middle Eastern background (Egyptian born and raised in Canada) who decided there were better ways to live her life then flying between London and Seattle every two weeks for Microsoft. World travels ensued including a 6 month-long stint in Cambodia and considerable time in South America. She earmarked Barcelona as a favourite at the beginning and her travels confirmed it. Barcelona.
She swapped the office for the city and curated her first food tour. Her tour goes through the Raval, the Gothic quarter & the Born. The tour takes people through the eating habits of the locals starting with the aperitif of Vermouth, through to lunch and the essential habit of Menu del dia (introduced, Marwa tells us, by Franco to ensure the country’s labourers would have affordable meals), past the merenda, on to tapas, pre-dinner drinks and finally dinner.
The entire time we are walking, learning and eating – Marwa pulls out a laminated map of the regions of Spain to show us where a food we are eating comes from. Everything is put into context: historically, geographically in Barcelona and Spain in general. You come out having eaten (more than any other food tour I have ever been on) but also enriched with a fair bit of knowledge.
The restaurants and cafes that she has picked for the tour are in and of themselves worthy of a tour. From a former convent, to a restaurant that housed one of Picasso’s first one man shows, to another restaurant that has a repurposed an altar from the Santa Maria del Mar church into a bar.
Throughout, we are reminded that we are in Catalonia – home of Jordi who defeated the dragon. We are asked to look for the coat of arms of Catalonia and to the many dragons the city houses. At the end of the tour, whoever has spotted the most receives a prize.
It is a well thought out tour, in terms of what we eat, geographical food context and historical information. The quality of the food we eat and the wine we drink is fantastic. I am introduced to many restaurants I haven’t visited before and have had the best of what they offer picked for me at each one.
It’s Marwa’s charisma that takes this tour from good to fantastic.
The tour already runs 3 days a week and she keeps her groups to under 7 people. It’s €85 for over 4 hours with food and drink included – this is a tour where you eat, not one where you taste as a lot of them tend to be. She has ideas for a few more which if she pulls them off, will be fabulous. I expect Wanderbeak will become a favourite among the city’s food tours.