Just prior to learning how to cook paella at Cook & Taste in Spain (and having the realization that I am not fond of paella), the instructor took us to Barcelona’s La Boqueria Market to pick out our ingredients.

La Boqueria Market is a well-known Catalan foodie haven; a mixture of delicious colors, smells and sensations…

…and the abundance of food is fifty shades of red. Not in a Mr. Grey’s red room sort of way, though some meat was hanging with ropes, literally in a variation of crimson way. Sorry if you clicked on this post thinking otherwise.

Disclaimer for the squeamish: real animal part photos ahead, from several parts of the animal usually not seen at your local supermarket, but very common in other parts of the world. You have been warned.

The hanging Jamon Iberico, cured Spanish ham, was the start of the color sensation. At least five shades must be featured mid-air here; fire brick, auburn, chestnut and so on.

Moving onward to the raw meats case, we were presented with an entirely different set of variation in hue, from vermillion to rosewood. The tongue being the palest, while the liver was the deepest in color.

Who knew animal innards could be so colorful?

This fish, who was staring right at me, was the most beautiful rust.

Stop looking at me, it’s creepy.

The langostines were a paler version of the fish, with much smaller staring eyeballs. Slightly less creepy.

I’ll show you both. You are going into the paella. No more ogling.

Red chiles were beckoning to spice up some traditional Spanish dish, though not ours. Some of us are wimps. The finger is pointed directly at me.

The fruits and vegetables looked like they got a dose of Windex, shiny and tempting. I touched them to see if they were plastic. Nope.

We will need some of those gleaming red peppers for the paella.

And possibly some strawberries, dipped in chocolate for dessert?

And my favorite thing at the market was the fresh fruit juice in a dozen of different flavors. I snuck away from the group to indulge in one strawberry-coconut mixture for  €1,50.

I would have bought another, mango-pineapple, if the rest of the class wouldn’t have been waiting. What if I would have bought a round for them too?

Have you been to Boqueria Market? What food market around the world is your favorite?

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