This post is part of our Inside Devour series. We work with some of the most passionate and talented guides in the country—make that the world!—and we’re thrilled to tell you their stories.
For Jaume Pàmies, food has always been a central part of family and cultural identity.
“I was always interested in what my mother, my grandmother, were cooking,” the Catalan journalist and guide said. “Even just smelling food cooking over at the neighbors’ houses—I could always tell what was going to be good.”
That culinary curiosity has stayed with him throughout his life.
“Jaume was always cooking and inviting us into the kitchen to try things,” his son, Ferran, remembers.
It’s no surprise, then, that both members of the food-loving family are putting their culinary knowledge to work with us here at Devour Barcelona. Jaume had already been guiding for several years, and earlier this year, Ferran joined the team as well. They’re now the first set of guides from the same family in any Devour Tours city.
Growing Up in Catalonia
Jaume and Ferran’s family boasts a unique cultural blend. In addition to their Catalan identity, Jaume’s wife and Ferran’s mother is British, so Ferran is a native English speaker despite having lived his entire life in Catalonia.
Jaume and Ferran remain close as adults, and their genuine friendship is evident. Their roots in traditional, authentically Catalan environments—such as Barcelona’s Gracia neighborhood, where Jaume grew up and Ferran now lives, as well as the village of Arbúcies that Jaume now calls home—mean that food, family and culture are near and dear to them both.
With such deep ties to the city and region, it’s no wonder that Jaume has been one of guests’ favorite guides here at Devour Barcelona for more than three years. Earlier this year, when new opportunities opened up on the team, he had one person in mind: his son, who he knew had a gift for guiding.
Ferran already had experience leading tour groups in Barcelona, but was looking for a new opportunity that would be a better fit.
“Then one day Jaume told me, ‘Hey, there are some openings at Devour,'” he said. “I met with [Barcelona operations manager] Owen and it just progressed from there.”
Even though he’s only a few months in, it’s safe to say that Ferran has found what he was looking for. Showing curious travelers around his hometown in an authentic, meaningful way with Devour has been a great fit for him so far. “My girlfriend says it’s the first time in a long time that she’s seen me come home from work smiling every night!” he said.
What sets this particular experience apart for Ferran is the focus on local businesses and their stories. “I find that they really bring extra interest on the guest side, and particularly also in me,” he said.
In the future, Ferran said that he would like to start leading groups on some of Jaume’s tours to Catalan wine country.
Jaume’s interest in wine grew from his experience guiding tours in Barcelona: “It actually started with Devour, as many things do,” he said.
He credited fellow guide Fintan Kerr with helping pique his interest in wine. Later, Jaume launched his own successful wine tour business, Barcelona Wine Experiences, which organizes curated trips to some of the most enchanting Catalan wine regions from Barcelona.
Getting to know the real Barcelona
One thing that makes Jaume such a great guide is his ability to show guests a new side of Barcelona, or Spain as a whole.
“When one travels, they should get to know the ins and outs of that culture, its traditions and its history, and of course its gastronomy in the most reliable way possible. Because there’s no gastronomy without history behind it. That’s what defines us as Europeans, Mediterraneans, Spaniards, Catalans, residents of Barcelona or even of the Gracia neighborhood,” he said.
“That’s precisely what I like to tell my guests—that’s the greatness of this country, but it’s something that hasn’t been focused on from this point of view.”
As a lifelong resident of Catalonia, Jaume has seen the way that the various languages and cultures that make up what we know as Spain have become more and more overlooked over the years. As a result, “it’s no wonder that many tourists come in search of flamenco, bullfighting, paella and sangria,” Jaume said.
One of his favorite parts about guiding is opening people’s eyes to the world of gastronomy, culture and tradition that can be found on the Iberian peninsula. “These tours are important because they don’t just enlighten our guests with dynamic guides and with great food, but also with useful information that might not be considered ‘touristy’ in nature.”
Jaume encourages fellow guides to work on making this distinction. When done right, it can take a guest’s experience from “good” to “unforgettable.”
“We should ask ourselves whether to give people what they already know, or help them go deeper, [understanding] gastronomy and its history through customs and traditions.”
To him and to other great guides, the answer is clear. After all, memorable moments don’t tend to happen inside your comfort zone.No need to say goodbye—add your email address in the form below to stay up-to-date on all things Devour Tours. ADD_THIS_TEXT
Life is too short to speak one language and stay in one place. In 2015, this philosophy took her from familiar Ohio to sunny southern Spain. Usually drinking tinto de verano, reading Lorca, or attempting to dance flamenco (not all at once). Follow her blog, Viatic Couture, for more.