Going to the Market in Barcelona

I first went to Barcelona in 1957 with my parents and I actually have a memory from that time because we went on board

The author in 1957 on board replica of Santa Maria in Barcelona

The author in 1957 on board replica of Santa Maria in Barcelona

a replica of the Columbus’ Santa Maria which was very cool. We also went on board a US Navy frigate for some reason, probably so my US Air Force father could pick up a pay check or perhaps his spying instructions.

I visited Barcelona later too, the last time a few years ago when I rented an apartment while my son was on his study-year abroad. The Boqueria is the famous Barcelona market, but I often went shopping at the Mercat San Caterina in Sant Pere because it had no tourists who tended to get in your way when shopping at the Boqueria.

Santa Caterina Market, Barcelona

Santa Caterina Market, Barcelona

My apartment was in the Gothic Quarter so I went via C/ Jaume and crossed over Via Laietana to Princesa and made a left at some little street. An easier way to go is perhaps from the northwest side off the Avda Francesc Cambó. I circulated for a while taking everything in: there’s a lot and I also had to keep focused on what I was making that evening. I stopped at Olives i Conserves Torres, mcat. Sta. caterine 15-16 (Tel: 93 319-21-51) where I bought some Jaen green olives that are a slightly bitter and spicy. I also got saffron and noticed a jar of allioli and asked the guy if it was any good. He started explaining how to make it and I said I knew how to make it I just wanted to know about the quality because the jarred kinds were awful. He smiled and said this was very good. He asked if I was Italian because I kept using Italian, and I said no American, and he said but somebody is Italian, right, and I said my grandfather. He was satisfied.

Author aboard US Navy frigate, 1957, Barcelona

Then I moved on to get vegetables at Labrador: fruit dels bosc i bolet, mcat. Santa Caterine 168-171 (Tel: 93 319 95 03) and I bought mushrooms, they look like golden trumpet, at 24 euro a kilo. I bought 6 euro (400 grams). I also bought some tomatoes, mongetes (runner beans), and a fleshy red bell pepper (marrones). It was rather expensive as all the vegetables cost 13.69 euro. On the other hand, I guess that’s what I spend at home. Then I went to Maribel: xarcuteria i cansaladeria, mcat. Santa caterina (Tel: 93 268 05 80) for the sausages. This was fun as I told them I wanted 4 different kinds of sausage for 4 people. They sold me botifarra negre for boiling and the same for roasting and then three types of white botifarra. The vendor tied a red string around the one that was to be boiled, otherwise it

Sausages, Santa Catarina Market, Barcelona

Sausages, Santa Catarina Market, Barcelona

might burst, but as soon as I got home I couldn’t remember if the red-string one was to be boiled or roasted. I also got two cheeses, one a nameless (I guess) goat cheese with an orange rind that was slightly tart and bitter. I also got a Tres Leches, Artesano de Cantabria (quesos artesano de los picos de Europa) made with 50% sheep, 40% cow, and 10% goat milk.

Dinner that night was great and it is so fun to having a relaxing dinner at home in Barcelona.

Make Your Own Spicy Harisa For A Taste Of North Africa

Harisa (1) Given how easy it is to make harīsa, the ubiquitous chile paste of North Africa, I’ve never had much use for those inferior tubes of the stuff. Harīsa is the most important condiment used in Algerian and Tunisian cooking, and you need to make this recipe and keep it in the refrigerator before attempting any other Algerian or Tunisian recipe you might have in my or others’ recipes.

It’s hard to believe that so essential a condiment could evolve only after the introduction of the New World capsicum after Columbus’ voyages. It’s thought that the chile entered North Africa by way of the Spanish presidios that dotted the coast in the 16th century or came up from West Africa overland from the Portuguese holdings there.

Harīsa comes from the Arabic word for “to break into pieces,” which is done by pounding hot chiles in a mortar, although today a food processor can be used. This famous hot chile paste is also found in the cooking of Libya, and even in western Sicily where cùscusu is made. In Tunisia it would be prepared fresh at home. The simplest recipe is merely a paste of red chile and salt that is covered in olive oil and stored. READ MORE

Cozy Braised Beef Short Ribs for a Winter’s Eve

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Prime beef standing rib roast, dry-aged 21 days

There’s no doubt that a standing rib roast of USDA Prime beef is an extravagant Christmas presentation. It’s a center piece—and it’s expensive. The standing rib roast in the picture, a 3-rib approximately 8-pound USDA Prime piece of beef cost about … [Continue reading]

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Using History to Create Inventive Dishes–Stuffed Lamb with Amaretti

San Giovanni degli Eremiti 2 (Palermo-Sicily)

I first became fascinated with the role of the Arabs in Sicily after a trip to that island in 1983. There were noticeable Arab influences in everything from palaces, to bridges, to woodwork, to architecture, as well as a curious feeling to the local … [Continue reading]

Beignets for the Holidays

Beignets (4)

A wonderful starter for a holiday dinner are beignets, the light and airy morsels of bake dough that can be stuffed with a variety of fillings. They’re easy to make and perfect to serve when family and guests are arriving and milling around having … [Continue reading]

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Thanksgiving is surely a time for gastronomic excess, but at the same time, unless your children are adult cooks as mine are and the work is joyfully parceled out, the task of cooking Thanksgiving dinner can become burdensome and stressful. But … [Continue reading]

Start Your Thanksgiving Turkey Gravy Now!

Turkey gravy Thanks 2009-1

This week is a good week to prepare the turkey stock for the turkey gravy you’ll have on Thanksgiving. Everybody loves gravy on their turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing so you shouldn’t relegate it to a secondary food. Treat the gravy with respect. … [Continue reading]

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