I like wandering through markets. I don’t like to cook. I don’t like even to buy food (unless starving). But I do like to wander trough markets. I do not know why. Perhaps the forms and colors of all those bizarre goods inspire on me a primitive attraction. Perhaps the hectic atmosphere that reigns on these holy temples of the Latin culture catches me with an invisible hook every time I pass by one of them. Perhaps I am hungry most of the time and I don’t realize …
My dear friend, let me show you some of those mercados now:
“La Boquería” (Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain) is one of my favourite markets. An explosion of colors, fragrances and decibels. First class goods. First class smiles. And the little restaurants you’ll find within the place are simply superb. The problem with La Boquería is precisely its enormous success: it is a favorite of locals and tourists alike, hence it is usually crowded. La Boquería is located at the heart of Barcelona’s gothic quarter, in the Rambla, the famous (in Europe) street that connects Plaça de Catalunya (Catalonia Square) with the Christopher Columbus monument, in the Port Vell (Old Harbor). If you happen to see two or three immense and white cruises fighting among them to get a mooring in the harbor … Go! Go! Go! Run to La Boquería before it’s too late.
In Madrid (Spain’s capital) there are quite a few good markets. For this post I have selected one of the most “trendy” these days: The old market of San Miguel. It has been recently transformed into the paradise of the tapas. You can buy raw food here (veggies and fishes and cheeses and so on), but I’d rather taste everything cooked or prepared “in situ”, in place: Iberic ham (“jamón serrano” has not been declared World Heritage Thing by the UNESCO yet, but should be); Spanish tortillas, croquetas, pinchos, shrimps a la plancha, all kind of seafood, oysters, wines, fruits, desserts, everything. There is even a little shop of Japanese food. By the way, whenever I go to this market, I found there a lot of friendly Japanese visitors. They are intelligent people and love good food, hence, do as they do and visit San Miguel market if you ever pass by Madrid.
Galicia (Northwestern Spain) is a privileged territory. Every year, thousands of pilgrims from all over the world come here, to the extremely beautiful city of Santiago de Compostela, following (by foot or by bike or horse ONLY) the millenarian Way of St. James across a big part of Europe. They usually arrive to Santiago as happy as exhausted. When they visit the St. James’s tomb, in the Cathedral, they (and me, whenever I go) feel even happier, from the spiritual point of view. But, from the merely physical point of view, depleted stomachs are not so happy yet. It is advisable then to visit a Galician market and to fill one’s backpack with outstanding goods (“Galicia calidade” or “Galician quality”, as the “gallegos” mark the products of their farms and fishing harbors)
Galicia’s markets sell some of the best fish and seafood in the world. Here below is a glimpse of the Pontevedra fish market.
Well, I must leave you now. In my next post we’re going to visit a charming little market in Southern France … Hasta la vista!