A former food market. An archaeological site to witness the city’s past. Plus a restaurant to taste Catalan dishes. This is el Born cultural center.
The market of el Born opened in 1876 and was the first large-scale cast-iron building to be erected in Barcelona. It fulfilled its role as a market for 95 years, first being the local market for the neighborhood, and, since 1921, becoming Barcelona’s main wholesale market for fruit and vegetables.
In 1971, the market was closed as an archaeological site, revealing traces of demarcations of the streets and houses of Barcelona of the 1700 s, was found in the subsoil. In 2013, the place opened its doors as el Born Cultural and Memory Center, revealing its completely restored structure and finishes, as well as the underground ruins, witnesses of the consequences of the Siege of Barcelona (1714) during the Spanish Civil War. The 8,000 sqm surface of the space now includes exhibition and event spaces, a library and a gastronomic space.
Besides the ruins in the center, the interior shows some images depicting the history of the market of el Born.
the Gastronomic Space: el 300 del Born
The restaurant within the cultural center, El 300 del Born, has a lovely view towards the ruins and also recalls the historical atmosphere of the market through large, back lighted prints. Why el 300? To emphasize its opening exactly 300 years after the siege of Barcelona that ended, on September 11, 1714, with the capitulation of the city, thus with the abolition of all Catalan laws and institutions.
The menu is focused upon the regain and update of the traditional Catalan dishes. It is inspired from history, as well as legends, and includes features of market kitchen, to recall the anterior use of the space – all of the dishes with a slightly contemporary touch from chef Jordi Vilà.
Bombes de la Barceloneta are, by excellence, the tapa of the city. The name indeed translates into the bombs of Barceloneta, the neighborhood of Barceloneta being the place of birth of the recipe.
A typical Catalan pastry, to be found in the areas of Gerona, Barcelona, Tarragona and Lleida, coca de recapte consists of a dough mixed with escalivada (oven-baked peppers and eggplants) to which any ingredient can be added. The traditional ones are sardines, herrings or butifarra, even though today you might find them with tuna, onion, olives, or tomatoes. Due to its similarity to pizza, it is supposed that the origins of this plate date back to the Roman era of the Iberian peninsula.
A mix of shredded salt cod, tomatoes, onions, olive oil and vinegar, salt and, sometimes, with a garnish of olives or hard-boiled eggs, esqueixada is often described as the Catalan ceviche because it is made with raw fish in a marinade (even though the fish is salt-cured and dry). The name of the dish comes from the Catalan verb esqueixar, to tear or shred. The salt cod in the dish is always shredded with the fingers, never sliced or chopped, to achieve the correct texture.