I spent three months in Spain, mainly in Barcelona working with my good friend Imogen Wells to develop our food identity brand, HAPA. One experience I will never forget is when Imogen mentioned going to a local fish auction at Badalona beach just outside of Barcelona. Not knowing what I was in for, I was both curious and thrilled!
The day we decided to go was scorching hot and the location had limited seating. We were among the first to arrive just before 1pm but very quickly, town folk and tourists alike piled on top of one another, crowding around the main stage to await the spectacle. The fisherman unloaded their catch of the day and in a matter of seconds, salmoneta, monkfish, prawns, cuttlefish and many other local finds were sorted onto woven trays. The trays were then organised into rows on top of a large pallet and then the bidding began.
In this particular auction, the fisherman set a 30-euro starting bid and the auctioneer moves from tray to tray, running down the price by 10-cent increments. When you hear a reasonable price, you raise your hand and scream ‘YO’ (meaning me in Spanish). Your name is recorded, you get a ticket (which you later take to the register to pay) and then the bounty is yours! The process continues until everything is sold. Once the auction is over the crowd leave without a trace and the place clears out to a beautiful view of the beach.
That afternoon we took our Salmoneta and Cuttlefish (Sepia) to make lunch for the farmers at Aurora Farm. We grilled our seafood on an open flame and harvested some red peppers, sweet cherry tomatoes and mint for a chunky salsa. Although a simple fare, I find absolutely nothing wrong with unadulterated and unforgettable when it comes to the freshest ingredients.
The auction happens everyday at 1pm sharp on Badalona beach. You wont be able to miss it if you arrive with time to spare but you wouldn’t have a chance if you were late. The duration of the auction depends on the quantity of the catch but it all happens relatively quickly and you may just miss this special event even at 10 minutes past 1pm (take it from my experience!).