Open-air markets

I love open air markets. I love open air markets in Europe most of all. I’ve decided that I’m going to go to more of them. In fact, I’m going to go to the biggest and most bustling open air markets in every Euro city I visit. One thing that you notice in European open air markets is that the vendors take placement and color very seriously. The market booths are really much prettier than what you’d find at the Farmer’s Market back in the States.

I was fortunate enough to spend some time in the St Joseph Mercad in Barcelona – and it’s just way too much fun. The little girls had put in an order for some pistacios. So here’s a picture of me “going nuts”.

There were lots of other neat things to see and investigate. The fruit stands were colorful and symmetric with their stacks of oranges, clementines, figs, apricots, and apples.

The olive vendors had more sizes, shapes, and colors of olives than I ever knew existed. They were grown and flown in from all over Spain and, in fact, all over the Mediterrainean. Their flavors ran the gamut from tart & tangy to sweet to bitter.

The cured meat stalls had more kinds and types of meat than you’d ever expect. In the States, we have got lots of chicken, turkey, pork, and beef. But they also have things like goat & kid, mutton & lamb, rabbit, and then varieties of smoked meats that are either impossible to find or impossibly expensive.

Of course, there were also plenty of wide-open, full-service butcher shops in the Mercad. Whenever you have butchers at work, you’ve got a chance to see the entire animal. In the USA, we tend to forget that meat comes from an animal – that an animal actually has to die to become our meal.

You don’t forget about those things in an open-air market. Not only are plenty of animals sold with the heads still attached, but you also get to see (and buy) all the nasty parts that sort’a disappear (probably into hotdogs and bologna) in the USA.

Sing with me now! “Tongues and stomachs and brains, oh my! Tongues and stomachs and brains, oh my!”

Europeans also tend to shop much more frequently, say, every other day, and to buy a lot LESS stuff when they go shopping. Costco is not a household word here. And because so many of them actually walk from their apartments to the Mercad, the bring their own grocery carts that look a lot like pullman luggage. They’re really cute and came in a multitude of colors and patterns, but only one size!

Well – I tried to post the pic of the grocery carts around 5 or 6 ties and it died each time. So I’m hangin’ it up and callin’ it a night.




  1. Oooh – I wanna travel with YOU! I ADORE open air markets. When I was in London for a week I managed to hit three of them despite my work schedule. I think my adoration comes from spending so much time in New Orleans at the French market when I was a kid (back before it was a glorified flea mall).

  2. Hey, I live with him and I don’t get to go! He says that it’s ’cause I have to go to school, I say all the better if it’s during school! I only thought there were black and green olives, but yellow? I saw a yellow one in the picture….

  3. Suzi – climb aboard girlfriend! I already know I’ve got a trip to London in May.

    Emmy – when are you out of school? You could probably come with me if I go during the summer.


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