On my June trip to Barcelona I wanted to find an experience where I could cook and eat with locals. I love the way that the language of food and the act of cooking together can connect people in communities across the world.
So it was important to me to find an experience where I could actually cook rather than be cooked for. I decided to use Eatwith and found exactly what I was looking for.
The Foodie Sisters. The sisters in question, Angels & Carmen, offer a walking tour of the Boqueria market followed by your opportunity to cook a range of local dishes. In this case the dishes we made were Tomato Bread, “Tapa” Spanish Omelette, Chicken and Seafood Paella, Crema Catalonia & Sangria.
First the Boqueria Market. This was a feast for the senses! The colours and smells were wonderful. The Foodie Sisters shared information about the history of the market and took us to a few select stalls showcasing everything from fruit and vegetables to meat, seafood and snails! Although a late afternoon visit means that the local farmers market and main fish market have already closed, the visit does provide enough of a flavour for you to get a feel for how food in the area is produced and consumed…. and to decide whether to come back to the market again early in the day to experience the farmers and fish market.
A short walk back returned us to Angels and Carmen’s cooking space. This beautifully refurbished flat has a high ceiling with original exposed beams, large windows and tables that are made from the wood recycled during the refurbishment. As a space to cook and eat it has been lovingly thought through.
Then there was the cooking. As there were four of us on this tour the tasks were split between us and my task was to slice the vegetables for the paella. The cooking pace was gentle and relaxed and the banter free-flowing as we chopped, whisked, squeezed, smeared, grated and beat the various ingredients for each of the different dishes. “A Spanish pinch of salt” Angels requested. This turned out to mean a generous pinch of salt – you learn quickly and with fun!
Angels and Carmen provide tips and tricks for making the paella. I won’t spoil the surprises and so sufficient to say that shrimps were tossed, vegetables sweated and rice added all at specific times, not judged by actual time, but by how the dish was looking – this is the type of cooking I love.
Glasses of the Sangria had been drained (and re-filled where requested!) while preparing the meal. The tomato bread had been eaten and finally we were ready to sit down to eat the Spanish omelette and paella. Organic wine, Sangria or water accompanied the meal and I ate with a real sense of pleasure.
To finish was the Crema Catalonia, a light dessert… and after some further tales from Angels and Carmen and having learnt more about the other people on the tour, it was time to leave and for me to take a gentle walk up Las Ramblas back to my hotel.
Angels and Carmen had brought a perfect blend of expertise, knowledge and fun to the occasion and created a relaxed mood. As a lovely final touch they send you the recipes you have cooked so you can try them out at home.
I love the philosophy (Slow Food) behind this tour that Angels and Carmen aspire to and also the mission they hold, ‘to change the view of what tourism represents for Barcelona today’. For me it was important that this event was contributing to the local economy and the small local producers of Barcelona.