Barcelona Photoblog: la boqueria
Showing posts with label la boqueria. Show all posts
Showing posts with label la boqueria. Show all posts

April 13, 2010

Boqueria Fish: Fresh Gallo

Boqueria Fish: Fresh Gallo

As with all species mentioned here in the past, there is a certain percent of error in the classification I give since many times I forget to write down names when I take pictures. This one looks like a John Dory or Zeus Faber (Gallo, Ceo, Zeo or Pez de San Pedro in Spanish).

The name Gallo (rooster) is also given to other species of fish in Spanish that are different in appearance and have different scientific names such as Lepidorhombus wiffiagonis aka Megrim.

This is not an ichthyology treaty so just concentrate on the fresh appearance and the fact that you can buy some at La Boqueria market in Barcelona or maybe other fish posted in Barcelona Photoblog recently.

Update 2023: Due to the huge popularity of the original post (for reasons still unknown to me) the frustrated scientist in me (who dreamed of being a marine biologist) has decided to abound in the topic and do some justice to the beauty of a John Dory or Gallo fish.

The Zeus Faber: A Remarkable Species with Many Common Names

The Zeus Faber: A Remarkable Species with Many Common Names

The Zeus Faber, also known as the John Dory, is a unique and iconic fish species found in the coastal waters of the eastern Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean and Black Seas. As a fan of marine biology and ichthyology, the study of fish, I am fascinated by this distinctive fish and its many common names across languages.

In English, the Zeus Faber goes by several colorful names, including John Dory, St. Peter's fish, and dory. The name John Dory is thought to be a corruption of the French jaune doré, meaning golden yellow, referring to the striking yellow and black patterning on the fish's body. St. Peter's fish comes from the myth that the dark spot on the fish's flank is the thumbprint of St. Peter, left there when he removed a coin from the mouth of a fish.

In Spanish, this fish is known by two main names: gallo and pez de San Pedro. Gallo means rooster in Spanish, an apt description of the Zeus Faber with its tall dorsal fin resembling a rooster's comb. Pez de San Pedro mirrors the English St. Peter's fish, referencing the biblical apostle.

In Catalan, Zeus Faber is called Gall de Sant Pere or Gall or Sant Pere. Gall means rooster, like the Spanish gallo. Sant Pere means St. Peter.

It is fascinating how the common names in English, Spanish, and Catalan all draw comparisons to a rooster's comb or reference St. Peter. These creative names speak to the Zeus Faber's distinctive appearance and religious legends surrounding the species. However, it is important to note that gallo in Spanish refers to a different fish species in some regions.

Taxonomy and Classification

From a taxonomic perspective, the Zeus Faber belongs to the family Zeidae under the scientific order Pleuronectiformes. As a flatfish, it is closely related to other dorsally-asymmetrical fish like sole, flounder, plaice, and halibut. Its genus name Zeus derives from the Greek god, while its species name Faber comes from the Latin word for craftsman.

The Zeidae family contains just one other species - Zeus gurnardus, or the gurnard John Dory. The John Dory is larger in size and has a deeper body than the gurnard John Dory. Both species are found in the Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic.

Key Characteristics

The Zeus Faber exhibits several unique external characteristics that distinguish it from other fish:

  • Tall, extended first dorsal fin resembling a rooster's comb
  • Distinctive black and yellow color pattern on body
  • Large, spiny head
  • Small mouth with teeth
  • Asymmetrical, flat body shape
  • Dark spot on flank thought to be St. Peter's thumbprint

The John Dory can grow up to 60 cm in length and weigh up to 2.3 kg. It has a compressed, oval-shaped body and is broader than it is deep. The eyes are located on the right side of the head, with the left side of the body appearing white or blind. Small, fine teeth line the jaws.

The flank patterning features a golden yellow background with six distinct black vertical bands. Black or blue markings surround the pectoral and caudal fins. The John Dory's scaleless skin is very thin and semi-transparent.

Habitat and Distribution

The Zeus Faber inhabits the coastal waters over sandy, muddy, and rocky seafloors along the eastern Atlantic coast from Norway to South Africa. It is abundant throughout the Mediterranean and found as far east as the Black Sea.

John Dory live mainly at depths between 10 - 250 meters, but occasionally venture to 350 meters deep or come to the surface. They prefer saltwater temperatures between 10 - 20°C. Though mostly solitary, these fish occasionally form small schools around rocky coastal areas or reefs.

Predators and Prey

With its large mouth and sharp teeth, the John Dory is an opportunistic carnivore that feeds on a variety of smaller fish, cephalopods like squid and octopus, and crustaceans. Some key prey items include anchovies, sardines, mackerel, shrimp, and crabs.

Despite being predators themselves, John Dory fall prey to larger carnivorous fish like groupers, larger tuna, barracuda, and sharks. Their camouflage coloration helps them avoid detection from above. John Dory have also been observed following venomous weever fish, likely for protection from predators.

Gallo in Spanish

As mentioned earlier, the name gallo in Spanish also refers to a different species - the whiff, or Lepidorhombus whiffiagonis. The whiff belongs to the same order as the John Dory, Pleuronectiformes, and shares its asymmetrical flat shape. It is found in the northeastern Atlantic and Mediterranean.

Like John Dory, whiff possess camouflaged coloration, although they lack the distinctive patterning. Instead, whiff display sandy brown, yellowish, or reddish hues to blend in with seabeds. They have a slightly oblong, oval profile.

While whiff and John Dory overlap in range, their depth and temperature preferences differ. Whiff stay closer to shore in shallower, warmer waters of 80 - 150 meters depth. The similar body shape and habitat likely accounts for the shared common name of gallo, despite being different species.

Culinary Significance

The Zeus Faber holds an important place in European cuisine and food culture. In England, the John Dory has long been revered as one of the finest eating fish. Due to its notoriously low population numbers, however, it remains an expensive and prized delicacy reserved for gourmet seafood lovers.

Valued for its fine white flesh and subtle flavor, John Dory are often baked, pan-fried, or grilled. Chefs carefully fillet the spiny fish to remove bones and skin. The meat stands up well to a range of sauces and spice rubs.

In Catalonia, John Dory appears in classic seafood stews and rice dishes.

Overfishing Threats

Regrettably, John Dory populations have declined over the last several decades due to overfishing. They are extremely vulnerable to trawl and gillnet fishing methods. Their habitats have also been degraded by destructive bottom trawling practices.

John Dory reproduce slowly, taking 2-3 years to reach sexual maturity. Their low fertility and slow growth mean they are very slow to recover from population declines. For these reasons, sustainability organizations like Seafood Watch recommend avoiding Atlantic-caught John Dory.

However, fisheries in the Mediterranean have made progress with more responsible management. Mediterranean-caught John Dory are a better choice for sustainability. With conscientious consumer demand and smart regulations, we can prevent the loss of this iconic species.

The Zeus Faber remains one of the most unique and cherished fish in the ocean. While many know it as John Dory, St. Peter's fish, or gallo, marine biologists recognize its scientific name that pays homage to both mythology and taxonomy. Safeguarding this species for future generations will require a collective effort between scientists, fisheries managers, chefs, and consumers who appreciate its value. With some care, this fabulous fish can continue thriving for centuries to come.

December 21, 2009

Bolets or Mushrooms You Can Buy at La Boqueria, Barcelona

Bolets or Mushrooms at La Boqueria, Barcelona, Spain  [enlarge]

I don't have the slightest idea about mushrooms so I am going to dare give names to these three species. According to pictures, the first ones on the left could be some variant of Tricholoma, in the middle and most attractive to the eye, Cantharellus tubaeformis or Cantharellus infundibuliformis aka Rossinyol in Catalonia and finally what seems to be Agaricus bisporus. But then again don't follow my word on this so as to go and collect some in the wild holding my image cause your life might be at risk. The photograph was taken last September at La Boqueria market. If there are boletaires (bolet is Catalan for mushroom and boletaire those who know about bolets) in the audience please help me with this one.

This is just a recommendation of course for you to have fun with media. And while you are at it, how about more than 7000 mushroom recipes to browse for fresh ideas and maybe add that final touch to your Christmas table?.

December 09, 2009

Still Life: Wild Partridge Showcase, La Boqueria Market, Barcelona

Wild Partridge Showcase, La Boqueria Market, Barcelona, Spain

Like a painting depicting hunting trophies or a still life portraying dead animals, specially those of hares and birds, appeared before my eyes, imbued with a ghostly bluish-yellowish light, the wild game stand in La Boqueria market. From the mixture of species on display, I cropped this rack of wild partridges so you could take a good peek at the strange artistic beauty that inspired painters in the past, at that mysterious blend of nature, food, life and death evoked with traditional austerity in many Spanish bodegones where dead animals hung from a hook waiting to be skinned and free of any banquet luxury or adornment so often present in similar paintings from other countries in Baroque times. I know this is just a picture of dead wild partridges and you may not find it artistic at all but I wanted you to think about this aspect of painting and the peculiar relationship between art, men and dead animals regarded as something aesthetic.

November 05, 2009

Egg Stall, La Boqueria Market, Barcelona

Egg Stall, La Boqueria Market, Barcelona

Illuminated by both the warm incandescent light of the bulbs and the pristine rays of the early morning Sun these eggs, so carefully laid out as they are, seem to draw the most attention in La Boqueria market. In my opinion, the egg stall is only second best to the fruit stand at the entrance. By the way, today it is starting to be slightly cold in Barcelona although for tourists coming from up North this must be a joke. Sooner or later we will be like little chicks looking for a warm shelter under Mommy Hen's feathers. I hate winter.

October 28, 2009

Gills - Corvina Fish, La Boqueria, Barcelona

Gills - Corvina Fish, La Boqueria, Barcelona

Today, another dead fish and for a change in La Boqueria market. Yep, posts are somehow fishy lately. Well, fishmongers must be glad, ichthyologists not much, and Barcelona fans, eager to watch other hot spots in the city, rather disappointed. I found the gills of this fabulous corvina extremely attractive so I thought, what the heck, one more for the blog before I say, so long and thanks for all the fish!

October 22, 2009

Straws - La Boqueria Market

Juice with colorful straws at Sant Josep Market or La Boqueria Marquet in Barcelona

Whoever has visited La Boqueria market has probably seen the attractive display of colorful straws on the chilled glasses of orange juice.

I have to confess I rarely try one of those. You know, locals sometimes avoid the obvious specially when we think something is too much tourist-oriented. But one thing is certain, the presentation is fantastic and not just because some straws match FC Barcelona soccer team colors but also because of the perfect arrangement, the ice, the froth and the smell of fresh fruit.

In fact, I think I am being pretty unfair and stubborn in this case. Whatever you do, please don't miss this stall at the very entrance of La Boqueria market. Take a break and enjoy a refreshing glass of juice à ma santé!

October 04, 2009

Boqueria Candy

Candy Stall at La Boqueria Market, Barcelona

Just a picture for the weekend. Sweet thoughts! Get lost in the magic of La Boqueria market and concentrate on candy like this cute girl is doing.

June 28, 2009

Hake Detail, La Boqueria Market, Barcelona

Hake detail

As part of my La Boqueria market series I wanted to show you this detail of a hake which is one of the most consumed fish species on the Spanish table. Here are some essential recipes to enjoy hake: Merluza a la Gallega, Merluza a la Vasca and Cocochas al Pil Pil, there are many more of course. Remember to accompany them with a good white wine, like Albariño for example.

June 02, 2009

Monkfish: A Delicious Monster


One of the ugliest fish there ever was, monkfish, is however highly appreciated because of its delicious taste and tender meat. When I see them in the market, I can't help wondering who was the first human to try such horrible creature. I reckon that ugliness is a relative term, and that the idea we have of a monster is intimately related to our psyche, our dreams. I think it is a matter of symmetry. If you take a look at this fish at La Boqueria market, the first thing that calls our attention is that big mouth, totally out of proportion. Besides, the body is flat and the eyes are on top. It doesn't look at all like a "normal" fish. As you see, we apply our concept of beauty, of harmony, to animals too. Monkfish remind me of abyssal fish in spite of living in the continental shelf (200 m approx.) and the continental slope (up to 1000 m). They even have that dorsal spine above which they use to lure preys which resemble fishing rods (that's why they are anglerfish too) so familiar when we think of deep water fish. The abyss by itself generates fear in our minds. Every time they bring out some fish from the bottom it has that demon-like aspect, pretty common in old illustrations about the sea and journeys towards remote, unknown corners of the world. I wonder why so? It is not the monkfish's fault to have benthonic habits, that is, to live in the bottom and have adaptations to that habitat, like the flatness, the position of the eyes, the color of the skin and the enormous mouth. What turns that into a monster? When did it appear as such in our primitive mind?. That fear of the unknown together with a menacing look might trigger a signal indicating danger to our existence. Who knows! Maybe we'd better kill the monster and eat him just in case. Some monkfish recipes to have at hand after the "killing".

April 13, 2009

Fish Market, La Boqueria, Barcelona

Fish Market, La Boqueria, Barcelona

The fish section of La Boqueria market is not only a good place to buy fresh fish but also an attractive spot to take your camera and let go your imagination. I think this image is rather cruel or looks like some still life painting perhaps but that's the way it is with food. We kill to survive. I hope someone bought the rest of this fish. At least, they didn't have to use its head as promotional bait in vain. La Boqueria is one of the most important markets in Barcelona and sells a great variety of products. It is said that what you don't find there you won't find elsewhere. I can't guarantee that but its stalls are a pleasure to the eye and a must-see during your stay in the city. Here is an old post with another image and a video: Visit La Boqueria Market in Barcelona.

September 07, 2008

Visit La Boqueria Market in Barcelona!

Lamps in La Boqueria Market, Barcelona, Spain

Most important cities in the world have markets which they are more or less proud of, not because we as inhabitants are going to earn profit from selling products but due to the fact that major markets are a representation of traditions and cultural legacy handed down from past generations.

What I mean is that we as a community are proud of El Mercat de la Boqueria or Mercat de Sant Antoni or Mercat del Ninot, because part of our history is present in those premises, in the architecture, in the products sold, in the way they are displayed, in the way things are cooked or the advice they give us to prepare a nice dinner the way our grandparents did, in the daily thriving of so many families that have been in this trade for ages.

This is what we are and how we are and is good to see that visitors like it and get to know Barcelona in one of the most ancestral ways of doing it, by the food. Check this video of La Boqueria Market by denniscallan.

Remember you can spot La Boqueria market on my Flickr map!

March 18, 2006

A Touch of Strawberry Red

A Touch of Strawberry Red

Going down Las Ramblas, just next to the Liceu Opera House to your right, you will see the entrance to the most renown market in the city La Boqueria. The place is always full of tourists and locals. Customers fight their way through the crowds of photographers-to-be, camera in hand, competing for the best picture of the remarkable exhibition of exotic or traditional fruit like these healthy red strawberries. The best stalls are right at the main gate though. Try going to the other side then and visit the little squares a couple of blocks away where there are nice restaurants or bars to sit outside in the sun. If you are a graffiti lover you will have a perfect day too. To know more check the history of La Boqueria market.
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