Madrid’s Markets

Posted on Wednesday, October 21st, 2009 at 1:41 pm

I walked into the Mercado de San Miguel under the impression that it was the main market in Madrid.  I found a sleek, super-sanitized, fancy food gallery.  I learned that the market was recently renovated, only re-opening in May of 2009.  Yes, there are high-end vendors selling flawless fish, vegetables, meat, and more.  Moreso, however, the new mercado is a glorified food court.  You can stop by one stall and get your freshly shucked oysters before going next door to get a glass of cava to compliment them.  Or, you can get a plate of mixed olives and a glass of vermouth from the same stand: one-stop shopping.  Most of the stalls have counters where you can eat; there are also tables and counters in the center of the market.  San Miguel is really gorgeous and I ate very well there, but I wondered where the regular person buys their weekly groceries?

Mercado de San Miguel Mercado de San Miguel

Mercado de San Miguel Mercado de San Miguel

Mercado de San Miguel Mercado de San Miguel

Mercado de San Miguel Mercado de San Miguel

The kind folks at the gourmet Portuguese bakery told me that I could find that other kind of market down the street at Mercado de la Cebada.  I went directly there.  It is an everyman market: the opposite of San Miguel, gritty and grimy, with blood on the floor.  I saw a delivery man with whole lambs slung over his shoulder.  One by one, he tossed them over the counter to the meat vendor like they were sacks of potatoes.  The Mercado de la Cebada has two floors, though there are a lot of empty stalls.  It has all of your regular vendors selling meat, fish, vegetables, and flowers.  There is also the knife sharpener and the clock repairman.  As I wandered this market with my camera in hand, I felt like I made friends in this place.  There were a bunch of great clowns who wanted to pose for pictures for me.  The roast suckling pig stall gave me a postcard of the market a hundred years ago.  It felt like the market equivalent of the Cheers bar where everyone knows your name.

Mercado de la Cebada Mercado de la Cebada

Mercado de la Cebada Mercado de la Cebada

Mercado de la Cebada Mercado de la Cebada

Mercado de la Cebada Mercado de la Cebada

Mercado de la Cebada IMG_3482

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