It’s only fitting that my first real post about my trip to Spain is a post about my favorite place to go when I’m in a new destination: the market. The smells, the flavors, the new ingredients and old favorite dishes. The colors. The smells. The people. Aaaaah, it’s intoxicating.
In Madrid it’s all about Mercado de San Miguel. This market has been renovated and reinvented since it was built in 1916. Inside the updated metal and glass walls are stalls serving cheeses, meats, drinks, and seafoods. Stands selling Spanish delicacies and tables strewn with small plates of olives and anchovies, peppers, and empty beer glasses. It’s the pulse of Madrid’s cuisine culture and is a perfect place to start your stay in the city.
To really get the lay of the land at San Miguel, several visits are needed. I believe that over the 48 hours I spent in Madrid, I visited the market at least four times and varying times of day. And I still could go back for more.
For one thing, I loved people watching here. Businessmen, travelers, local Madrid-ians (eh?) grabbing a meal or a snack or a bite to bring home… It was alive.
Of course, the food. It’s all about the food. I recommend arriving at the market hungry – this is not the kind of place from which you bring home tomatoes and flowers. Here, we EAT. You’ll go from stall to stall trying little bites. Olives, Jamon Iberico, cheeses, churros, fish. Are there vegetables you may ask? No, Not really at the this market. Please. MEAT AND CHEESE,
Well, there is one veggie – pimientos de padron. In my opinion, these little peppers are the BEST Spanish dish there is. When served blistered (from being charred over coals) and sprinkled with salt, there is nothing better to snack on. Curiously, they are also the Russian roulette of vegetables. (only 10% of so of all these peppers are hot and spicy and the rest are all wonderfully mild like a bell pepper) Eat to your hearts content but always be on guard – you may bite into a pepper that actually has heat. Watch out. You’d better have an ice cold beer handy. Fire mouth.
If you’ve done it right, you’ve spent a good amount of time walking the market and a good amount of Euro tasting everything you can get your hungry mitts on. Now it’s time to wash it all down. There are three excellent choices according to me. Beer. Wine. Sangria. Please don’t get me started on the wine + coke thing. It’s weird and I don’t like it, even though it is popular all around Spain.
People. Food. Drinks. A perfect day in Madrid at the Mercado San Miguel.
Have you been?