The Boqueria market is one of my favorite things about Barcelona. It's the craziest, fullest, most interesting market I've ever seen, with aisle after aisle of vegetables, fruits, meats, fish, breads, candies, and more. Much is unrecognizable; there are lots of exotic fruits, including one with spiky skins and black-speckled flesh inside. The fish booths are indescribable: piles of shellfish of every shape and size; gigantic fish lined up in rows, their beady eyes staring at the crowds; lobsters, crabs, and all sorts of tentacled creatures moving their claws and antennae idly. In the meat stalls, lambs' heads--eyes still intact--nestle up to livers, sausages, and many other things I avoid scrutinizing too closely. I've never actually bought anything at the Boqueria, other than an occasional fruit drink, gelato, or snack, but I have dreams of putting together elaborate meals made solely from Boqueria riches. One of these days.
The Boqueria is on my mind today for a reason: In this week's New York magazine, there's a restaurant review of a new restaurant in New York City named, yes, Boqueria. The menu, explains the review, reflects the offerings of the Boqueria market in Barcelona. The restaurant follows an array of new dining options that reflect New Yorkers' "appetite for all things Spanish." The thought of this restaurant slightly unsettles me, blurs the lines between where I live now and where I used to live, and which place I miss when. When I'm here in Connellsville, I miss New York and Barcelona both--New York because it feels closer here; Barcelona, of course, because Andrew is currently sleeping in our apartment there. If we one day wind up back in New York, we could go to the Boqueria restaurant--but we'll have a fresh memory of the real Boqueria; we don't need a spinoff to indulge our love of Spain. And going to the Boqueria restaurant will hardly help any sad feelings we might have about having left Barcelona, just as the Hard Rock Cafe and the one small bagel shop in Barcelona fail to help our occasional pangs of missing New York.
Seeing the Boqueria mentioned in the magazine reminded me of how unusual it is to know a city intimately, a city that others may only visit. I feel this way about New York, of course, but New York was a part of my life for so long I got used to being inside of it. Seeing it in movies or ads--the Brooklyn Bridge was recently featured in an ad for a Spanish bank--makes me homesick, not awestruck. Barcelona, on the other hand, is new. Just last year, it was just a name on a map; now, I know the sights and streets, the food and markets, even some of the language. When I catch sight of it someplace--in a magazine, in the Times--it startles me. Hey, I realize, I know that place. And not only know it--my shampoo and sandals, a stack of my books, and a heap of my clothes are there right now.