Girona, Catalonia – El Mercat Del Lleo.
Just across the street from our hotel in El Placa del Lleo is Girona’s retail food market. This is the distribution centre for the city’s fresh produce. What a joy to behold.
The purpose built hall houses wet, dry, cured, moist, slippery, crunchy, crispy and soft foods. Outside it is surrounded by produce stalls, the goods on which are of every shape and size.
Even putting the olfactory senses on hold, the visual ones are delighted fed and delighted admirably.
are these elvers or smelts?
We walk through, unable to buy anything to cook, but delighted that the chefs and cooks of the city just a short stroll ahead of us have been here far earlier on today and left with full bags.
The elvers on the tapas, I get a hard stare from my friend and to be honest I could take them or leave them but oh, how pretty they look.
Checking the provenance and sovereinty was impossible. The Catlans do not care to speak Spanish. They are NOT Spanish, no more Spanish than the French or Italians and they will NOT, by jingo, speak it unless pressed very hard. Therefore it was not EASY to strike up a casual conversation about the provenance of the monkfish, or the halva or the quinces. Even my friend Lucy ( who took these marvelous pictures) who learned her Spanish in the jungles of Peru could not elicit any information without resort to hand gestures. Plus as it was obvious we weren’t buying and were merely passing through and these stall holders are busy, busy, busy.
retro-tastic butchers’ stall
So I can only guess that all these treasures came from the surrounding hills and plains and shores. Certainly there were no gimmicks and every one buying looked doggedly assured that they knew precisley what treatment to give the familiar ingredients according to the day of the week and the complexion of the days’ weather. In short, this produce is the backbone of the region and while there is definitely room for experimentation (after all Ferran Adria’s El Bulli is but a stone’s through), none of the cooks here want their supplies titivated or tarted up. This is where the every day cooks and the Post Modern Impressionist cooks come to fill their palettes.
When we reach the far side of the market, we are a tad peckish. We are now faced with the task of sifting through the immense number of choices of where to have lunch in this city. But it won’t be too tricky, as long as we choose somewhere whose cook was at El Mercat Del Lleo earlier this morning, and left fully-laden with produce and inspiration.
and with that thought in mind we make our way to the Plaza del Independencia for a bite to eat