When I first lived in Barcelona, way back in 2002, I lived just around the corner from this fantastic hole-in-the-wall fruit and veg stall. Back then the Santa Caterina market was still a building site so it was the obvious place to shop. This worked in my favour as the señora who ran it (now supposedly retired but usually somewhere around keeping a proprietary eye on the place) was very patient with a newbie guiri and attempted to teach me the names of the fruit and vegetables I was buying. I remember having terrible trouble with ‘zanahoria’ for some reason, but then I don’t really like carrots that much anyway.
Apparently she – the matriarch – moved to Barcelona when she was eleven (I won’t give her age away, but that was well over sixty years ago!) and worked on a stall several doors away. They moved to another location nearby before finally settling into the space they occupy now. Now, in 2010, it’s still going and it’s still a family business. In the early days it was apparently very difficult to get hold of stock, and the variety was limited – sometimes they would have nothing but oranges for sale. Now everything comes via Mercabarna, but the son explained that they are noticing a return to more ‘old fashioned’ ways of shopping, specifically that many people now come with their own shopping bags or baskets, buy smaller amounts more often, and are more concerned about provenance.
Unlike a lot of the very busy stalls in the market, here they take their time with each customer, checking that the produce they have selected for you is acceptable (How ripe do you want your avocados? To eat today or tomorrow? Or to make guacamole?), and offering advice (Red onions should always be kept in the fridge as they go off more quickly than other kinds of onion). If new fruit is in season then be prepared to try a couple of cherries, strawberries or even an apricot and give your opinion (riquissimo, por supuesto). There is often an…errr…’topical’ comedy still life:
I have no idea if the place has a name – it really is just a hole in the wall on c/Dels Mestres Casals I Martorells which runs from the Santa Caterina market up to Sant Pere.
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