We are launching a new literary project dedicated to what just might be the most legendary thirty foot paen to simple Catalan cooking in the world, Bar Pinotxo. The bar is located in Barcelona’s internationally renowned Mercat de Sant Josep, or as it’s also affectionately known, "The Boqueria."
I’ve had the enormous privilege of being accepted into this tightly knit, family-based culinary crew because one afternoon I was asked if I wanted to help open and prep with chef Jordi Asin. This offer came as I was eating a bowl of calamarsets (baby squid) i fesols (little white beans). I seemed to have exclaimed, "Collons! Fesols de Santa Pau!" which more or less translates into "Testicles! Little beans from Santa Pau!" Three heads turned as one from the stove, espresso machine and if memory serves dishwasher. A smattering of conversation transpired, whispers and nods and then the offer was made.
I showed up the next morning at six on the dot. Jordi had me do some prep work but basically he wanted to show me how to cook a few of their more famous dishes... capipota, garbanzos with morcilla, tallerinas (small clams) scrambled with eggs, Fricandó amb moixernons... and yes... the perfect tortilla (or truita... trout! in catalan).
I spent the week opening with Jordi. I got to see how Pinotxo was much more than a fourteen seat bar for the locals and a foodie pilgrimage destination. I saw that it’s the early morning touch point for the rest of the Boqueria. Jordi would have the cafe con leches ready for the regulars... fishmongers, delivery men, the fruit sellers... just as they hit the bar. I would work until seven-thirty or so until the regular crew showed up. Walking back home I found myself nearly in tears because it was such a profoundly moving experience. Such warmth, such history, such simple, pure food that tasted so good. It was a reminder of why I have called Barcelona home for the last twelve years.
The idea is to use Bar Pinotxo both in the specific and the general. On the one hand as an exploration of the inner workings of one very tiny space and how it reflects the Boqueria. And then to expand to the bigger picture; the food eco-system of Catalunya and of Spain itself. In this way we will reveal, through story and on a human scale, the heart and soul of this wondrous part of our world.