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Geeky groceries: Stock up on butterbeer, unicorn’s tears and Willy Wonka chocolate bars
HAVE YOU watched every Star Wars film back to back? Can you quote any character from any tome of Harry Potter on demand? Did you have to be surgically removed from Super Mario Brothers on the Nintendo as a child? Would you pick Game of Thrones as your Mastermind specialist subject? Was your best-ever birthday present a Spiderman outfit? And was it for your 35th birthday…?
If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to one or more of the above, or can fully empathise with someone who might, book a trip to Barcelona and make a beeline for the new Galeries Maldà shopping centre, known as a ‘nerd’s magic triangle’ or a Geeky Camden Town to fans.
“The gallery has become a meeting point for geeks,” says Ismael Álvarez, head of the firm Reino de Juguetes (‘Toy Kingdom’) which is behind the freaky foodhall.
“You’ll find products you won’t normally get in any mainstream supermarket or standard shop. These are supermarkets tailor made for any type of geek.”
Five themed grocery stores within the gallery opened on Thursday this week (February 7) – two of them exclusively focussed on Harry Potter’s world, one an emporium of all things Game of Thrones-related, another a Dragon Ball paradise, and one specialising in some of the best-known Japanese manga or cartoon series seen in Spain.
“There are a few snack items, chocolate bars and drinks on sale in our shops – this was the original idea, but customers were asking us for more, so we decided to go for complete supermarkets, Reino de Juguetes says.
Want unicorns? You can get them here
A pink super-heroine with a cape and shopping basket is the logo for the gallery, which even has a pavement café terrace where you can sit and enjoy the food and drink you’ve just bought.
And you can’t beat a cold butterbeer with an insect energy bar to recharge your batteries, can you? At least, not if you’re a Hogwarts pupil playing truant because you’ve forgotten to do your Potions homework.
Or maybe you can beat it – unicorn’s tears, which are pinky-purple, fruity-flavoured and fizzy, sound amazingly refreshing for a sweltering summer day, or perhaps a Valyrio fire liqueuer straight from the Seven Kingdoms of Game of Thrones.
Blue wine is actually a thing in Spain; Víndigo, from Almería, is available exclusively from the manufacturer or from René Le Bail’s wine merchant in the south-eastern French harbour town of Sète, and Gïk, the brainchild of a Basque-based start-up, can be bought online, but the only known physical point of sale is a bar and cake shop in Mdina, Malta.
Varieties of it are now on sale in the Supergeekmarket (SuperFrikiMercado), as the nerdy grocery store in Barcelona is known.
Or choose from a variety of flavoured Coca-Cola or, for a truly exquisite touch, cava with edible gold in it.
For true weirdness, try a bottle of Ramune, a Japanese drink with a marble in it which can actually be drunk – they’ll show you how in-store.
As well as typically-Japanese fare, such as savoury snacks and sweet pastries, Super Mario fans will be able to brighten up their breakfast with Oreo cookie- or doughnut-flavoured cereal.
For a cocoa fix, and staying on the Japanese theme, chocolate biscuits from the series Sin-Chan – or, for those who grew up reading about giant peaches, snozzcumbers and worm spaghetti, Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka has dropped off some of his famous chocolate bars with golden tickets inside them in the Barcelona store after clocking off at the factory he wowed Charlie on a guided tour of.
Student cuisine with a psychedelic twist
Can’t be bothered to cook? You’d need a very detailed microscope to find any nutritional value in packet noodles, but they’re among the most guiltily-satisfying and effort-free culinary inventions on earth, and along with takeaway pizza, tinned soup and microwaved baked beans, have prevented many a student from starving. They’re even more satisfying, in fact, when they come in completely bonkers colours – like yellow Pikachu ones, with your very own electric Pokémon on the wrapping.
Noodles can still be a perfect pick-me-up even when they’re not destined for your stomach – the décor, made up largely of stickers with emoticons and Japanese-style manga characters, includes highly-original designs such as Dobby the House Elf from Harry Potter swimming in a bowl of these tangled-up masses of pasta.
As well as a hamburger in a bun which looks like Spiderman, another that looks like Stich, Minions popcorn, milkshake, apples and baby bottles, and drinks with the faces of Goku and Vegeta.
“We want our shops, including the Super Friki Market (SuperGeekMarket) to be an experience that people, when they enter – whether they buy anything or not – find unrepeatable,” says Ismael of Reino de Juguetes.
If you do enter, and disagree that it’s unrepeatable, we’d be intrigued to find out where you can, in fact, repeat the experience.
And actually, you don’t need to be a geek to shop there. Kids will absolutely adore it, but you’ll have to be pretty steely to resist ‘pester power’ if you take yours; either that or have a full purse and be ready to part with the contents pretty swiftly.
For anyone intrigued by social history, a visit will still be a novelty even if butterbeer or unicorn’s tears fail to whet your appetite – the Galeries Maldà was in fact the first shopping gallery to open in Barcelona, and is now one of the last still standing, making it worth the detour whatever the contents of its shelves.
But we bet plenty of visitors and residents in the city will be slipping in for a jolly good snoop, even if they do it discreetly to avoid anyone they know spotting them.
Unlikely they’ll get away with it…because everyone they know will already be inside, filling up their baskets!
Photographs by Reino de Juguetes
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