I love wandering around a food market (or farmers market as they are sometimes known), when I am traveling as it truly helps to get a real glimpse into the daily life of the local people. The markets are usually full of so much character and charm, and filled with different aromas, colourful and vibrant produce and have a fantastic ambience. I love nothing more than buying an ingredient or spice from the markets to add to my kitchen cupboard, and whenever I reach for it in the future, I am filled with happy memories of the place I purchased it from.
In the words of the great Anthony Bourdain:
“Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them, wherever you go.”
1. Railway market – Maeklong, Thailand
This is the most unusual and unique of any markets I have been to as it actually has a train running through the middle of it several times a day. The vendors simply move their produce for a few minutes whilst the train passes through and then go back to their day as normal. It is truly amazing to see!
It is over an hour’s drive from Bangkok and ideal to pair with the Floating Markets, which are also a must see in Bangkok.
2. Barcelona – La Boqueria
Located just off the bustling La Rambla, the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria is a must visit when in Spain. Here you will find an array of fishmongers, butchers, cheesemongers (the Manchego cheese is to die for), fruit and vegetable vendors and charcuteries. If it is a hot day, you can also buy chilled juices and fresh fruit to refresh yourself with.
There are also a selection of small restaurants within the market with counters where you can eat fresh food.
3. Rome – Mercato Trionfale
Located really close to the Vatican is Mercato Trionfale with approximately 200 stalls of goodness to see! A must visit in my opinion! I wished I lived in Rome at that point and could cook with all the amazing ingredients I saw there.
4. Mexico City – Mercado Medellin
Mercado Medellin has over 500 stalls featuring specialties from all over Mexico and Latin America and here you can find the various popular ingredients used in Mexican cooking.
The gentleman pictured below, is Don Julio, and has manned his stall since 1968! Selling produce from the Yucatan province, he has some pretty awesome sauces in his stall, as well as lots of fresh chillies.
5. Palma de Mallorca – Olivar Market
The Olivar Market is filled with gorgeous displays of fresh fruit, olives, cheese, fish, meats, condiments and tableware. A great place to see the Mallorcan people in their daily lives and to get a feel for what the local specialities are.
6. Cadiz, Spain – Mercado Centrale
A stroll through Mercado Central in Cadiz is an absolute must. I absolutely love immersing myself in local food markets, as you can learn so much just from observing the locals and seeing all the various fresh produce that they sell. I always feel sad that I can’t take any of it back home with me.
7. Borough Market, London
This is one of my favourite markets to pop in to occasionally to buy fresh vegetables if I am planning on making something special, select some artisan cheese and some doughnuts from the Bread Ahead Bakery.
Easy to get to (a couple of minutes walk from Borough or London Bridge Station), and with views of my favourite London Landmark, The Shard, I highly recommend a visit if you are visiting London, or if you are in London and haven’t been.
There are also stalls where you can buy hot food and the aromas coming from here will have your taste buds mesmerised.
8. Athens, Central Market
A visit to the hectic, lively and buzzing Central market on Athinas Street is a must to see the variety of fish, meat and vegetables on offer. This is a historical market and plays an important role in supplying homes and restaurants in Athens. What we learned was that the Greek favour fish over meat and have an incredibly healthy lifestyle.
9. Chandni Chowk, Delhi
A visit to Khari Baoli Spice Market, in Chandni Chowk, which is the largest spice market in Asia, is a must and here you will find a tantalising and aromatic selection of herbs and spices ranging from dried chillies, turmeric to garam masala, each filling large sacks.
10.Mauritius – Central Market
Mauritius has an amazing market called Central Market and it is a treasure trove for food lovers. Must tries are the dholl puri – a cross between a parantha and dal kachori. Enjoy the dholl puri with a very refreshing and delicious alouda from Pillay, which is similar to falooda and oh so delicious!
Located within a food market, it was fascinating to see all the fresh vegetables and fruits, and food for sale within the market. Interesting spots included Nan Khatai, which I grew up with in Kenya, so was good to see it in Mauritius too.
11. Hong Kong – Graham Street Market
This is Hong Kong’s oldest food market where locals purchase fruit, vegetables, meats and flowers. I adored walking through and seeing the everyday local merchants selling their super fresh produce and I wish that I had a chance to try and cook with some of the ingredients as it was all so fascinating and so fresh.
Things to do in Hong Kong
12. Tuscany – Mercato Centrale
The nineteenth-century Mercato Centrale is a must visit and has two floors full of amazing foodie finds. On the ground floor you will find a conventional marketplace with vendors selling produce such as wine, limoncello, fruit, meat, fish, cheese, oil and spices, while the upstairs food court is the perfect stop for coffee or snacks.
I would suggest going really early in the morning as it is less busy then and definitely negotiate prices a little bit, although at most of the stalls they are pretty decently priced. I came back with Limoncello, pastries and chocolate.
Where has been your favourite food market or farmers market to visit? Let me know in the comments below xx