Monday, July 29, 2013

Treasure at the Mercantic

Recently, I read an article about distilling fermented fruit to make what the french call eau de vie.  The article claims that distilling fermented fruit is a better way to capture the aroma of fruit, particularly apple and pear, than making wine.  There were photographs in the article of lovely copper pot stills, that are more popular in Europe, especially France, than in the US where home distillation isn't exactly legal.  Spain and France are neighbors!  I wonder...

So, when I got to Barcelona, I tasked Brandon with finding a place to buy a copper pot still.  He searched on the interweb and didn't have any luck.  There were places to order new ones, but he couldn't find any shops that sold them.  

Then, when we took our trip to Val de Nuria, there were cabinets in the little museum with displays of antique goat bells.  The goat farmers in the Pyrenees would attach giant bells to their goats so they could locate them as the foraged on the mountainside.  I thought it would be great to have a Spanish goat bell as a souvenir of our trip, you know, for my non-existent goat.  Best of all, this gives me an excuse to go shopping at a flea market!  The biggest antique market slash junk store that I could find online was the Mercantic, and it was recommended that the best shopping was Sunday mornings, when the outdoor vendors set up.  

The art history teacher, who is a friend of ours, has lived in Barcelona and is very familiar with the city.  She hadn't heard of the Mercantic, so I was a bit worried that I wasn't on the right track, especially since we had to take a train outside the city to a place that seemed deserted of people.  When we came out of the train station we kept saying "can this be right?"  It just didn't seem like a place for a flea market.  But once we found the right place and climbed a set of steps, it was a junk shoppers paradise!  What a shame it is so far from my house.  I wanted one of these old horse carts bad enough to buy a horse!


You can't really tell from the photos, but these round bottomed glass jugs resting in baskets are huge.  Probably fifteen gallons or more.  Are they for wine? 

Racks of fur coats and stands full of walking canes with fancy tops.  I never knew I needed these things. 

Who doesn't want a snow ski scooter? 

The indoor section of the market had everything you could imagine, from sparkly light fixtures to antiques to contemporary furniture, but the outdoor sellers where my favorites.  They had boxes of hinges, old locks with skeleton keys, chess boards made from spark plugs, old farm tools, tacky art, salvaged sinks, faucets - they had it all.  I even found a brass bell for my imaginary goat.  For only five euros, too.  

After we exhausted the outdoor sellers we stepped into the indoor section which is arranged like a peddlers mall, with lots of small booths, and into the first booth to the right, which was so loaded with dusty stuff that there was only a walking path through the center and stuff hanging from the ceiling tickling our heads.  I said to Brandon "oh, I wonder if I could find a pot still while we are here?" and when our friend said "what's a pot still" we started to describe it and then I said "there's one!"  It was on a shelf, tucked behind so much stuff all we could see was the curved copper top.  How weird is that?   Did I see it, and my subconscious made me mention it?  I don't know, but when we started to dig it out of it's nest of junk the seller came over and Brandon attempted to haggle with him and he wouldn't budge.  He said it was "preu de crisi" a crisis price.  I was trying to make sure it had all it's working parts, and he assured me it was "funcional" and that he had used it himself.  I didn't really believe this, but he seemed knowledgeable in it's operation.  

It was priced similar to new ones that I have seen online, but with no shipping costs, and that doesn't even factor in the value of finding it on my trip to Spain.  And this one has character, and a history!  Do you wonder why he wouldn't come down?  But, since he wouldn't take a lower price, wanted only cash, and I had no idea if these things were scattered throughout the market since we had just walked into the first booth, we walked away.  After we searched most of the market, and didn't see another one, Brandon searched out an ATM, but it was out of money.  So, Brandon scrounged up all our cash, borrowed some from our friend, and went back to the seller (without me and my terrible poker face) and told him this was all we got, take or leave it.  I got it!  For thirty euros less than what he was asking, too.  Now I will always remember Catalonia while I enjoy eau de vie made from my pear tree while listening to my Spanish goat bell.  Perfecte!  


MA said...

The pot still is so cool looking! Is that the goat bell next to it?

James Storm said...

Way cool!

rain said...

Yes, that's the goat bell. It's smaller than the giant ones I saw in the museum, but my imaginary goat will thank me for not making it wear a copper pot on his neck.

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