Appreciating the Market Life in Mercado de San Miguel, Madrid
During our second day in Madrid, we passed by the famous Mercado de San Miguel after our scheduled lunch at Restaurante Los Galayos in Plaza Mayor. Mercado de San Miguel, or the Market of San Miguel in English, stands out even amongst the busyness in the vicinity. Upon first glance one would not think that it is called a market.
The Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid is a lively covered market that is located just meters away from the even livelier Plaza Mayor. It was originally built in 1916, but the market that is seen today was opened in 2009. The market is most especially known for its iron structures, and its 20th-century glass walls show the interior of the market beautifully at night. It is famous to tourists, and the market’s location near the Plaza Mayor only adds to the bustle of the shops inside. Locally, it’s a one stop source of wine and food.
However, Mercado de San Miguel is more than just the typical market that most of us usually think of. Apart from seafood, vegetables, spices, or fruits, this market also sells Spanish delicacies like ham, tapas, drinks, cheese, pastries, pinchos, coffee, and other Spanish snacks. It’s called a market but it’s more of a large building with stalls that sell various food and drinks.
Since we went to the market nearing lunchtime, there were a lot of people. It was a very busy place, like a market indeed. However, amidst the crowds and busyness was the scent of food and drinks in the air. I felt that the building collected all the best of Madrid gastronomy in one place.
There were dozens of stalls inside. The stalls were numbered, and some shops took the space of two stalls. Each shop had a variety of items to display, and because they were mostly food, I was very happy. After all, food was one of my ways of immersing in a particular country or city’s culture.
There were stalls that sold pastries, like Horno de San Onofre and its pastel-colored displays. Aside from sweets, there was a cozy, bar-like coffee shop called Café Del Art. Stalls that served gourmet dishes were also present, but what surprised me was a sushi stall, which I thought especially stood out. It is appropriately called SushiMarket. Around the corner was the Pizzeria Tonda, which sold authentic Italian pizzas. Of course, there was also a stall that sold wine.
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Aside from prepared food, there were also stalls that sold uncooked food. Cured meat, seafood, pickled goods, and legumes were some of the Spanish specialties that were on display.
Unfortunately, we went to Mercado de San Miguel only to take a short peek. I wanted to take my time appreciating the displays, the aroma of food wafting in the air, and the people that gathered in one stall to the next.
Visiting Mercado de San Miguel is truly an amazing experience. Merely observing is a cultural immersion in itself. If I will ever have the chance to visit Madrid again, I would make sure to include this market again in my itinerary, or arrive at a time where there are lesser people so I can buy some things for myself as well!
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This Spain Street Photography and Food Tour was made possible by Spain Tourism Board, Turkish Airlines, Madrid Destino, Visit Barcelona, La Rioja Tourism, Donostia San Sebastian Tourism and Convention Bureau and Turismo Bilbao.