Scruffy and chaotic or orderly and refined, the world’s street markets offer fresh, local—and often cheap—seasonal produce, alongside a slice of local life.
La Boqueria, Barcelona – Spain
A host of selling posts, full of radiant stalls run by local vendors with fresh produce from near and around…that’s la Boqueria for you. In a section on the far side of the market are all the fish stalls with sea-food laid out on beds of ice. Fresh seafood is delivered here every single day. It would be sad to visit Barcelona and not stopover at this market, fight for a seat at one of the stands and order something adventurous. Recommendations go all out for the ‘Crusty bread rubbed with raw tomato, drizzled with olive oil and topped with thin slices of ham’…superlative! Another must try is the ‘Tortilla De Patatas’ alias Spanish Omelet paired with some local wine. Simply tasting an Olive from a vendor or sipping a sweet orange juice are unforgettable experiences. Obviously one cannot bring home the fresh fruits and vegetables but the Bomba rice (heirloom variety), the spices, and the special pans for making paella are appropriate to carry back with you as delicious reminders of your trip.
‘D’ TALIPAPA MARKET- BORACAY – PHILLIPINES
Absolutely the best place to eat seafood in Boracay. The fish market is not so much of a romantic experience, albeit one to heighten the senses. A wide variety of interesting sea critters are for sale, from crab to cuttle fish. It’s as fresh as fresh can be. That said, ecological sustainability is probably not at the top of the mind at this market, though waste minimisation is definitely the motto as I saw that one could buy every edible part of an animal in the butchery section: tripe, trotters, tongues, heads — it’s all there. Choose what you want, bargain, buy, and proceed to one of the restaurants arrayed around the market, who wait to cook it for you. I tried some crabs with butter, grilled giant clams and a soup with the smaller clams. We also ordered a grilled whole fish, which was a great idea and decadent to the core.
SPICE MARKET & WORKSHOP, DURBAN — SOUTH AFRICA
Durban is vibrant, and being a foodie my first stop was the spice market at the top of Bertha Mkhize Street which was previously known as Victoria Street. On arriving at ‘Dennis Spice Bar’ I was elated to see the mounds of spice (loaded with spice blends including the Honeymoon mix) to taste, and especially loved the way Dennis shared the best ways of using the spices. Soon I was seduced into another stall with calls of ‘Darling, darling, you must smell our vanilla pods’. Unable to resist some good vanilla, or the good sweet talking, I succumbed and left with a package of fresh vanilla pods. Moving on by foot to Dennis Hurley Street, I found ‘The Workshop’, which had been recommended by a local friend for the best bunny chow in town, at Oriental. Gastronomically satisfied, I walked down the beach front to watch the sunset. Durban on foot is a must do for any gastronomy experience-hunting traveller.
ST. LAWRENCE, TORONTO – CANADA
Originally built in I844 as the first true Toronto city hall, today it’s a Toronto landmark and the place to sample Canadian bacon. Interestingly where the council members once stood, now stands the ‘Market Gallery’. Apart from being the largest, this 209 year old food market is probably the cleanest and most organized market I have ever come across and if you are a foodie like me, then you should not miss visiting this place. The market has exactly what you are looking for on three levels, with so much to see, taste and discover. It’s like a one stop shop and has it all, local and imported foods such as fresh shellfish, sausage varieties, cheeses, baked goods, fruits galore, dairy products, best grains, cooking equipment, souvenirs etc. I would highly recommend grabbing a bite of the pea meal Canadian bacon, at the market’s Carousel Bakery. On Saturday mornings this is open across Front Street, for the 200-year-old farmers’ market and has on display a gamut of fine produce and homemade jams, relishes, and sauces from farms just north of Toronto. On Sunday the wares of more than 80 antique dealers are on display in the same building.
QUEEN VICTORIA, MELBOURNE – AUSTRALIA
With an area of around seven hectares (l 7 acres) it is the largest open air market in the Southern Hemisphere. Significant to Melbourne‘: culture and heritage, it has been listed on the Victorian Heritage Register and is named after Queen Victoria who ruled the British Empire, from i 837 to 1901. What caught my fancy was how the different sections were well marked and segregated, which makes buying more convenient, and one can easily compare between different stalls. The meat section which is in an air-conditioned area is smell free and different from what you would get in the wet markets. I loved the famed Bratwurst Shop 8. Co. Even Anthony Bourdain knows it. It is that good. With the sure fire signs of a popular eatery, the human frenzy swarming in front of the counter is something to handle and trust me, being an Indian helped. Ordering is speedy and goes something like… ‘Sausage? Sauce? Sides?‘ As for me I went in for the spicy bratwurst and piled it with mustard, onions, sauerkraut and cheese. Mama Mia…a perfect bite of crunchy bread, the tang of sauerkraut, onions…sheer bliss! I