I got invited to go along on a Barcelona Eat Local Food Tour last week and was immediately compelled to go when they told me it was in Sant Antoni & El Poble Sec. These two neighborhoods have been getting a lot of attention in the last few years with the Adria & Iglesias brothers setting up their headquarters there and the hipster mile that Carrer Parlament has become. Still, it’s not over run (yet) like most of Barcelona is and although many things are stirring there is still enough reality and grit around.
The Barcelona Eat Local Tour guys are the first to target this part of town. The ‘guys’ turn out to be a couple: Marina whose day job is in Finance and Andre, an engineer who works for the UN. They are a personable couple, which in this line of work is essential. They started their business in January and are steadily climbing up the Tripadvisor rankings.
We meet in front of the large steel structure that is the Sant Antoni market – undergoing refurbishment forever and seemingly likely to continue until 2018. In the meantime, there is the temporary market which is where Marina and Andre take us. To Masclans a cod shop that has been in the same family for 150 years, dating back to 1882 around the time that the Eiffel tower inspired steel structure of the Sant Antoni market went up. We are invited to peer into the marble sinks in which the cod is bathing, at three different stages of desalination. Everyone in the group (we are 9 in number today) is handed a tray with a cod croqueta, a cod tapa and my favourite a cod bonyols (doughnut).
Marina and Andre invite us to take our food outside, where they park us facing the original market. We eat our snack while they fill us in. It turns out that before there was the market, this ground was a public execution space, serving as a gory warning of what was to befall those who entered the city with mischief in mind.
The tour is brimming with anecdotes like this and besides the genial nature of the hosts one of the things I like most about the tour. Like I say in the blurb of the blog “curious about food, culture and what other people put in their mouth.” Food always has a story and it is culture, ever-changing but rooted in history.
Meanwhile, I don’t know how your Spanish is but if it is average to good I urge you to consider doing the tour in Spanish. I’ve been on quite a few food tours because of the blog in Barcelona but also because it is how I like to discover cities when I travel but they are always in English. When the language is English, the tour is the focus 100% and although names and niceties are exchanged with fellow food tourers – that’s where it ends. Not so with a Spanish group, within 40 minutes – numbers are exchanged, apartment prices compared, schools rated, surrogate options (not even kidding) discussed. It’s what 5th grade felt like when we had a substitute teacher in for the day. I’m not saying there are paper aeroplanes and spit balls but near enough that level of enthusiasm.
It is a thoroughly enjoyable day out and highly recommended (especially in Spanish).
Sant Antoni & El Poble Sec Food Tour €70 for 3.5 hours with food & drink included.*
*I was a guest of Barcelona Eat Local on this tour, however, all the views and opinions expressed on this blog post are my own.