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5 Things I Learned from Devour Barcelona

I think that food tours are hands down, one of the best ways to get to know a new city. Learning what the local people eat, and why is a perfect window into so many aspects of not just a places culture, but their geography, politics and more. Plus you know, food.

All of this to say, when I met Lauren Aloise at the Women in Travel Summit and she invited me to try her new Barcelona food tour, I nearly tripped over myself shouting yes, yes yes please! I didn’t have much luck cracking Barcelona the first time around and I hoped a food tour would give me more insight into the city.

It did. For over 4 hours, the lovely Renee lead us through the chill, local neighborhood of Gracia to 8 different bars, restaurants and bakeries. It was fascinating: we didn’t eat paella, or learn why tapas were invented or any of the other standard things that you can read in literally any guidebook. Instead, we went deeper, and discovered some interesting things about Barcelona and Catalonian food that you can’t find elsewhere.

A small sample of what I learned:

Cava Has No Pretension

Our tour started at 10 am prompt with a trip to a small local bar where we were served a perfect pork sausage sandwich and a bubbling glass of cava. Yes, at 10 AM. You see unlike its relative champagne, cava, Renee explained, has no pretension whasoever. You can order a cava anytime of day, with a meal, or by itself. You can order the cheapest cava on the menu and drink it with breakfast and nobody will bat an eyelash. Cava is an anytime drink.

And that’s why I love it.

Markets are a Superior Way to Shop

We then moved on to visiting Gracia’s main market where locals shop for everything from meat to produce to olives (What? You don’t have an olive guy?). It’s an old way of life, but such a smart one, for people who really enjoy quality food.

I mean really think about it. Why would you trust the same person who sells you meat to sell you cheese? Or produce? In a market you have a dozen different people who are all absolute experts at what the do. The cheesemonger is an expert in cheese, the fruit seller practically has a phd in oranges. If you want the best of the best, a market is far superior to a modern supermarket.

Syrian Sweets are Where it’s At

Many are familiar with turkish pastries, but have you ever been to a Syrian bakery? It is an unimaginable delight. The sweets aren’t quite as tooth achingly sweet but they are just as delicious.

At this stop on the tour we were allowed to pick literally any sweet on offer for ourselves. It was a torturous choice. Baklava, and other filo stuffed pastries filled the counters. Almond? Pistachio? Chocolate?

Spicy Spanish Food Does Exist

I’m not sure why the Spanish aren’t big on spice, but I’d never encountered a dish that made me think twice spicewise, until I met the bomba. A bomba is a tapa endemic to Barcelona. It’s a large ball of mashed potatos and meat, breaded, fried and then covered in a delightfully spicy tomato sauce. Pair it with a refreshing local beer and you’ve got the perfect snack.

There is so much more to Barcelona than La Rambla

Walking down the famous Rambla, you will be confronted with tons of touristy sidewalk restaurants promising paella or tapas. Yes, you can duck into La Boqueria market for a better selection, but to truly experience the local food of Barcelona you need to walk as far away as possible from this part of the city. It’s the neighborhoods of Barcelona where you can really see the traditional food culture, and it goes way deeper than seafood paella.

Should you take a Devour Barcelona Tour?

If you’re interested in diving a bit deeper into the food culture of Barcelona, Devour Barcelona is a terrific option. It costs 65 euros (steep, but not the most expensive food tour out there by far) and over a dozen hearty tastings. Show up hungry and don’t make lunch plans because you will leave quite full.

Incidentally, Devour also offers tours in Madrid, Seville and Malaga. I’m already penciling it in for next time I can get back to lovely Spain.

Disclosure: My tour was provided compliments of Devour Barcelona. All opinions are my own.

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9 Responses to 5 Things I Learned from Devour Barcelona

  1. Jenny | A Thing For Wor(l)ds June 3, 2015 at 6:59 AM #

    I loved Devour Barcelona’s tour! The sausage sandwich was my favorite, followed closely by the bomba. It’s so impressive how much heart and soul Catalans seem to pour into their cuisine.

  2. renee June 3, 2015 at 11:34 AM #

    Lovely post Steph! Loved having you along, and love how much you learned on our tour! Come back and see us in Spain any time 🙂

  3. Ashley Sawyer June 3, 2015 at 10:07 PM #

    Food really is the best way to get an accurate picture of the atmosphere in a new place. I love going where locals go for the best food, and often it’s the hole-in-the-wall places you would normally walk past that are the best!

  4. Amber June 4, 2015 at 4:45 AM #

    Yes! There is so much more to Barcelona than Las Ramblas! I learned that too during our last visit when we rented an apartment in El Born, and took a Devour Barcelona tour too!

  5. egeorgian June 4, 2015 at 4:57 AM #

    That sounds fabulous! I didn’t do a food tour in Barcelona, but wish I had. Instead I went to a cooking school and got to try an amazing meal that was made and served by the students. It was awesome.

  6. Erin Southerland June 4, 2015 at 6:00 PM #

    Yum! Next time I’m in Spain I definitely want to try one of these tours.

  7. Lauren Aloise (@spanishsabores) June 5, 2015 at 11:20 AM #

    I’m so happy we met and that you were able to come on the tour! Hope to see you again soon, and maybe do a food tour wherever it might be!

  8. Cat of Sunshine and Siestas June 9, 2015 at 2:07 AM #

    Like you, Barcelona never did much for me. Taking the tour let me know that there is more to Barna than I was expecting – though I’m still very much a southern Spain girl!

  9. Rachel June 19, 2015 at 9:36 AM #

    I saw both of you at WITS! I’m quitting my job to travel in the fall, and Spain and these food tours are definitely on my list! I also think a food tour is the best way to see a new city – I like to do it on one of the first days after arriving to feel my way around and get used to the way things are ordered at restaurants.

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