2024 European Food Crawl - Barcelona Mercado Boqueria….Toxic Oysters, Food Poisoning and more!!

This vast and amazing food market is one of the most popular destinations amongst locals and tourists alike. As such, detailed coverage and postings can be found all over social media. I will therefore refrain from spending too much time dwelling on attractions and points of interest inside of the market……except for ONE!!

The ‘Oyster Stall’ that sells local Galician oysters! Sadly, for my son and I, who consumed over a dozen of these delicious, pristine fresh looking, plump, meaty and chewy, mildly briney and umami sweet ‘Toxic Culprits’. The result was a severe FOOD POISONING attack that lasted for over a day for my son but over 3 days for this senior ! ( throwing up, diarrhea and chills ) ……spoiling the entire next phase of our vacation……a planned four day stay in Paris that followed! Weak, with total loss of appetite, I was bedridden and forced to cancel some of our advance restaurant reservations!

Well! On the bright side, I did manage to lose all the weight I gained so far on this trip due to yummy food, binge-eating! Ha! 😋🤮😭


Charles you are one funny man!!! I get it about losing the weight, but what a terrible price to pay!!! I always gain weight on these trips but you know…I DON’T CARE! The food (exception of your dubious oysters) is so great it would be a shame to skip any of it!!

Love your reporting!!

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I’ve been to Barca twice. Both days when the market was closed.

My wife has been more often including the trip that involved the Infamous Mussel Debacle, which followed a meal at a place on the Ramblas. Symptoms identical to yours. She had to press on as best she could, as she’d taken our then 8 year old nephew who ate whatever food was put in front of him


Oy. What a terrible experience. Wonder what was wrong with them, since it sounds like texture, scent & flavor were on point?

Oh, I am so sorry to hear about that oyster incident. How awful.

I know your pain. I once experienced a similar but shorter bout of illness from cooked—yes, cooked—mussels in a very nice restaurant in Florence.

Aside from that oyster mishap, I hope you are enjoying the rest of your adventure. May good meals await!

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I’d also like to know what was wrong with the bad shellfish…were they stored too long before serving, do you think? This seems to be a common problem, still…such a waste of vacation days.

Norovirus, which can be present in raw mollusks, doesn’t affect the flavor or presentation. But, you definitely know when you get it! Ask me how I know!


Thank you chowfriend!
Sadly, the worst is yet to come in Paris and London!! Sigh!!
I’ll be posting those reports!


Sorry to hear this. I got a mild case of food poisoning from our last meal in Madrid, I think from an oyster, enough for me to be uncomfortable for the next ten days (fortunately spent at home). Further back, I got a more severe case at our last meal in Lisbon on a visit a few years ago, oysters at the famed Cervejaria Ramiro. If that was the only thing that had gone wrong, as with our Madrid meal, I could forgive it, but the Ramiro experience was not pleasant overall. I don’t understand what people see in that place.

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Prab, that’s interesting… Terrible about all these cases of food sickness and most seem to be from oysters…it almost makes me want to skip them entirely, especially while on a vacation.

Can you elaborate on why you did not like Ramiro? I was only there once and thought it was great…pure product…lots of energy (downstairs more so than the upstairs dining area where we were relegated and I think, at least back then, that was the “tourist zone.”). Just a rustic place with great seafood. But obviously, I did not suffer gastrointestinally from the experience!!

I am no expert, and far from it, about eating in Lisbon and in Portuguese food in general; truth be told, from that more-or-less-week-long stay in Lisbon, I got the idea that Portugal paled besides Spain in the food department, but I think the place we liked best was Ramiro (more so than Belcanto!)

Just curious…what a I missing about Lisbon food, in general?
I probably did not go to the “best” places but I did do some research…

Note to self: No oysters on my upcoming trip to Spain… :cry: :grimacing:


This fills me w a terrible sense of foreboding.
Been there, done that.

We will take a vow:…

Oysters, no!
Percebes, si!

(photo: Abastos 2.0. Santiago de Compostela)


All good questions, @erica1, which I will attempt to address, because this is one thread on which it’s probably okay to go a little off-topic.

Re oysters: looking back on my episodes of food poisoning, a disproportionate number of them involved oysters. Of course there are other ways to get it, even when the tap water is safe to drink: poorly-washed salads, starters left at room temperature too long, cross-contamination. But as long as we continue with the assumption that the ocean (or the local river) is so big that it doesn’t matter what we put into it, it’s going to get less and less safe to eat oysters. Alas.

Re Ramiro: we were seated a little to the left inside the entrance, on the route from the bar / kitchen pickup point to the dining area on the right. Service was perfunctory to the point of being rude. Our experience in Lisbon is that service can be efficient but usually there is a minimum level of respect. We were handed an English menu on a tablet that was quite minimal: “shrimp”, “clams”, etc. The oysters did not have the adductor muscle severed, so we had to dig at them with standard unsharp tableware; there were shell fragments inside; and, of course, I got sick (not my partner). We had expected the shelled sauteed shrimp we saw at another table, but we got steamed shrimp that were overcooked. The clams (standard Bulhāo Pato prep) were all right. I’ve had better seafood in Lisbon while spending less, and atmosphere was about zero (noisy, people pressing by or servers rushing back and forth).

Re Lisbon food, Portuguese food in general: I have done a little travel in Portugal but not a lot, and probably a little more in Spain. When we moved to Lisbon, we were still not dining indoors, and we were more focussed on getting our lives in order and learning how to function, so we didn’t do a lot of eating out. I think we tend to eat more downscale than you do. All these are caveats for my basically agreeing with you, that Spanish food seems more varied and more interesting. Of course Spain is a much larger country, has a more robust economy, and historically was much more powerful. Portugal has access to good fresh seafood, and prepares it simply, for the most part. The cuisine is more El Pisto than Noor, if that makes sense. I bought a comprehensive Portuguese cookbook in 1989 and kept it (mostly as a cultural document) until just a couple of years before moving to Lisbon became a possibility (I wish I had it now). It had dozens of bacalhau recipes, but they were largely variations on the same theme, not very surprising. In the dessert section, there were dozens of variations on egg yolks cooked with sugar, simple cakes with dried fruits, and so on. The wine is quite good for my personal everyday sipping, and they don’t make a fuss over it. What I read about fine dining seems rather forced to me. The average visitor can eat well at modest cost; the average Hungry Onion poster might find things a little too ordinary.