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Posts Tagged ‘Mercat de Santa Caterina’

Foraging

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Now, if every time you approached your friendly neighbourhood Safeway, Save-On, Fortino’s or Overwaitea parking lot and it looked like this, wouldn’t rooting through bruised apples and overpriced cheese be just a little more pleasant?

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The building of this Mercat de Santa Caterina was completed in 2005, replacing a predecessor built in the 1800s.

What is in the water that so inspires these Modernista architects? Or is it simply the sunny blue skies? (If I’m not on the return flight to gritty grey Vancouver you’ll know where to find me.)

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Beneath the undulating roof it’s just that oh-gee conglomeration of family slow-food stands, fresh produce trucked (as in not-flown) in and a good reason to stop and shop.

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And to take time to smell the fungi. Which I did.

As mushrooms top the list of my favourite food groups I was more than happy to make like a local and sniff my way down the row. Many different varieties — large and fleshy, small and perfect, yellow, red, black, decisive (‘trumpets of death’ was the translation on one) and each had a distinctive aroma. Pine, earth, humus (not hummus), wet leaves…

And my favourite was this stand below where, next to the multiple mounds of mushrooms were pre-chopped, pre-packaged, pre-planned and ready to toss in the pan with a little butter and olive oil — garlic and parsley. Oh my.

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Still on the topic of food, we returned to the Mercat de la Boqueria, the place of the crushed bull heads, remember? Recall, my friends, that for one half of the travelling party this trip was about eating the food, not just looking at it.

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This little stall — whose name escapes me now; I’ll update later — is popular with tourists and locals because the food is fast, fresh (how could it not be, surrounded by all the stalls above?) and because the guys behind the counter are pretty obvious about not taking life too seriously.

While I struck up a conversation with the good ol’ boy sitting next to me, who was leaving for New York the next day and whose wife was aghast that I would have no wine with my midday meal, the following plates of food appeared before me, fresh, sizzling and truly tasting and garlick’d beyond compare:

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A plate of seared calamari made its appearance as well but clearly not long enough to be captured for posterity.

Yesterday’s vegetarian is easily swayed by today’s fresh catch.

Tomorrow I will tell you, in such painful remembrance because it is too possible that I will never ever set foot there again, about the best tiny restaurant on the planet, where the owners are the waiters and the waiters are the cooks and the cooks are creative and meet you at the door when you come back the next day because you left your scarf behind but maybe you just hoped they’d be open for lunch so you could eat there one more time…

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