The hardness of Mussels

In a blog of a japanese influencer called Kapenki Tamara we can find several testimonies of witnesses who were japanese tourists visiting the port neighborhood of La Barceloneta (on her blog it is written as “La “Barcelonita”) .

Some of these visitors explain that they were struck by finding mussels stuck to the wall of a façade and even sent a photo: a ground floor apartment on Calle de la Sal, with a greenish wooden door and mussels stuck to the wall. Many of those who came later saw nothing but a closed door and could not explain the mystery.

The explanation for this rare phenomenon that occurs only on some Saturdays in the middle of winter is only known to some inhabitants of Barceloneta and certain people from outside the neighborhood who had the habit of reading detective novels. Or, rather, crime novel. Because in these basements on Calle de la Sal you could only find: red wine, mussels, crime novels. If the owners of the establishment had consulted one of the competent business schools at the top of the city, they would have been advised with sound criticism to have opened a store selling flip-flops made in China, a frozen paella restaurant, or a franchised bar of Mexican tacos billed in l’ Hospitalet , but decided to open a bookstore that they called “Black and Criminal Bookstore.” They sold detective novels of the kind that do not seek to solve a police case, but rather to solve the enigma of our own concerns, shortcomings and desires that lead us to circumambulate many moral roundabouts and leave us with this curved feeling that life is one, but it could have been other. This feeling that, with a couple of twists of fate, we could have ended up either being dead, or the murderer.

Paco Camarasa and Montse Clavé were in charge of this bookstore. They had just lost many battles against capitalism and the children of business schools, but they had the tough skin of mollusks. Two wandering meteorites that found each other when they no longer thought they would find anything, and formed a planet. The bookstore opened in Barceloneta like a mussel opens, with this boiling fantasy that the two had. You walked into the bookstore and were greeted by soft jazz music and stacks of crime books. From the wall in front of you a Humphrey Bogart dressed as Sam Spade standing next to the Maltese Falcon looked at you, this statuette that they thought was made of gold and diamonds but it turned out to be made of the same material that dreams are made of.

To encourage people to come to Barceloneta in order to buy mystery books, on Saturdays they used to go to Carrer de la Sal and handed out glasses of very thick red wine and mussels blacker than Antonio Machin’s balls. People used to come to eat mussels on Saturday but they became too lazy to do so during the week and started ordering them on Amazon, so that they could have them delivered on Sunday because they don’t care if they make the staff work like slaves. Well, in 2015 the bookstore had to close the door. The “Negra y Criminal” bookstore lasted as long as dreams last. Paco and Montse closed with elegance without fuss with which they did everything.

Soon it will be ten years of this and although oblivion is one of the blessings and curses of the human species, mussels have memory. Sometimes they come to Carrer de la Sal to remind us that the most tender meat sometimes hides inside the hardest shell.


Antonio Iturbe

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