¡Viva España! El Quinto Día, Parte 1: Mercado de San Miguel

I will begin by apologizing to you if you A) hate super-picture-heavy posts; B) if you’re bored with reading about Spain (really, there is only one more day!); or C) you love both A) and B), but you’re hungry.

On Friday, I decided to head to the San Miguel Market, which is located quite close to the Plaza Mayor:

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The Plaza Mayor has even more food….I’m surprised I didn’t come back 10385623596 lbs heavier.

The market is basically a giant indoor structure made of glass that houses what seemed like a hundred individual food and drink stands. While I had visited this place on Wednesday, I was sort of rushed through in about 45 minutes, and decided that on Friday, I should give it the proper consideration it deserves. I wanted to really explore to take it in at my leisure.  I budgeted for about two hours and made sure I was hungry.  Unfortunately, I planned poorly. To really take it in at my leisure and try even one of everything at the stands, I would have had to budgeted seventeen hours and not eaten for days (and also gone with about €10,000).

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There were stands for seafood, both fresh and in (fried, baked, and raw) tapas form.  I’ve seen skate, and I’ve seen both shellfish and crawfish, but I’ve never seen them so huge before (that’s what she said?). I’ve also never seen those things that look like dinosaur fingers.  Seriously, if anyone knows what they are, please tell me!

Like any good Spanish market, there was a meat stand.  Cured meat, fresh meat, snacking meat, freeze-dried meat…I wanted to try it all.  My shock wasn’t at the volume of different meats – it was at the price tags.  They are, in a word, insane. Thirty-three Euros for a slab of ham?  I don’t pay $50 for a ham sandwich back home; I’m certainly not paying that for an even smaller bocadillo in Spain.  But I could at least look….

Tapas are some of my favorite types of foods – they’re ideal for indecisive people. Really, I’ll sit staring at a menu for thirty minutes before deciding what to order. So tapas are a perfect solution:  You get to order lots of little things, all different and the best part is that you get to share.  Or not, if you’re me…

And then…the sweets.  Oh, the sweets.  The pastries, the cookies, the chocolates, the breads, the tarts, the EVERYTHING!  And I don’t even like sweets!  Every time I get dessert, I’m surprised at how sweet it is.  But they were all so gorgeous, so perfect, so colorful and happy, that I wanted to eat them.  It takes a really special dessert to make me want to eat it.

I did manage to sample the paella (meat and seafood), a fruit tart, sangria, the oysters, some of the seafood tapas (both fried and raw), NONE of the desserts, and some of the (cheaper) meats.  I understand this place is meant to be a quick stopoff for food, and it’s technically fast food, but it was beyond any sort of fast food I’ve ever had.  It might say “Mercado de San Miguel” on the outside, but on the inside, it’s a little glimpse into foodie heaven.

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9 comments

      1. Well, that’s quite normal for specialty ham. They feed rare breeds of pigs on special diets consisting of nothing but acorns, yaddah yaddah… I find the exorbitant prices of cake and fruit far more offensive 😉

  1. Wow! Looks delightful. I don’t remember this place when I went to Madrid either, but having said that, thank goodness LOL!
    Spain is exceptional for meat pieces. It’s been that long since I went to Madrid as I remember going to a local restaurant, the slabs of meat were hanging low on the ceiling and everyone was eating, smoking, and shouting in close quarters LOL!. We had to leave as it was way too much and I’m a non-smoker. This was before the laws kicked in.
    Yes, it’s time to go back. I see now. 🙂 🙂

    1. The non-smoking thing was pretty good indoors, but outside, people would blow smoke at you – literally AT you. And the number of young people smoking baffled me.

      If I ever go back, I’m going back with thousands in Euros and shipping some of the cured meats back. And probably some wine. I suppose they have to offset the recession somehow!

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