Caelum Barcelona is a shop in Barcelona that sells goods made by monks and nuns. It’s in the Barri Gòtic which means there I am, walking through the dark maze like streets, which often smell of urine (there are a lot of incontinent tourists on the streets of Barcelona), I am surrounded by the pierced, the tattooed, tan-to-the-point-of-lobster folk photographing the laundry hanging from the balconies. And there, emanating a glow like a single candle in a dark cellar, is Caelum.
I practically hear the Gregorian chanting as I enter the ivory and gold shop and turn over boxes of marzipan, jars of tomato jam, scented candles, “stained glass window” biscuits. Each made by a different community specialising in a certain something.
I don’t know about you but I find that these days when everyone is consuming the same shows, aspiring to live the same life: the idea that there are people who have given up all earthly temptations and live without central heating and are rolling ground almonds in icing sugar to make balls of (the best marzipan I have ever, ever tasted) entirely original. Which is why I love Caelum Barcelona so much.
There is a cafe inside, where I sit down and have a cup of coffee with a slice of cherry cake. The bottom is slightly singed and I come across two cherry stones, I call this find: rustic. The taste is all there.
My father is Muslim and my mother is Christian. I never went either way but am one of those people who gets caught out every now and then as to “what are we all doing here anyway?”. I don’t dwell on it. I don’t go into churches or mosques and reflect. But somehow the idea that the people who have lent their time and their skills to do this… Well on this day I find myself reflecting (a little) but also enjoying their efforts.