When traveling you are forever comparing everything to home. What do people here do differently then we do? We love food markets. They are a quick overview of what locals eat and what they call everyday things we are very familar with. Also, how other people combine things we would never think to put together. For example, I’ve discovered you can drop a fried egg on just about anything from a hamburger to a pork chop to a plate of spaghetti.
One of the things we have discovered that the Spanish do really well is the urban mercado. We have been to four so far, two in Madrid and two in Valencia, and they have all been exceptional. Mercados are very busy places where people congregate to socialize and purchase every kind of vegetable, fruit, meat, fish, spice, nut, cheese or wine imaginable. And a thousand other things you never even thought of. Most have small counters where we can purchase coffee or a drink as well as tapas and small samples of just about anything.
The Mecardo de Miguel in Madrid is a little spendy but a great place for lunch.
The Mercado San Anton, also in Madrid, is in the middle of the trendy gay district and is a huge social gathering spot with terrific tapas and wine vendors.
The Mercado Colon in Valencia is the swankiest of the markets we went to. Recently renovated, it is mostly flower vendors and small stalls run by fancy restaurants.
By far the most exceptional Mercado we visited was the Mercado Central in Valencia. It is huge and filled with everything you never imagined you wanted.