Monday, November 29, 2010

Valencia: Mercado Central

Lets pay a visit to Valencia most important market, the Mercado Central or in Valenciano simply Mercat Central. Above, the principal entrance. The building dates from 1914 and has a structure in iron and impressive artnouveau details. Address: Baron de Carcer, center. Very near Plaza de la Virgen, there are boards on the streets indicating the way. (history, photos, restaurants and recipes). Do not mistake it by another market, situated in another part of the city:  Mercado de Colon - very beautiful but it has rather chic, modern restaurants and cafes than a place for fresh, raw produce.
Truly amazing central section, with an equally amazing dome. The photo cannot give you an idea how truly impressive and beautiful it is. Below: another angle of the market.

Let's start visiting the fish stalls, shall we ? Everything super fresh and clean - but hold your breath anyway.

Above: this is called in Dutch something like "shaving knives". I had seen a lot of such shells when I visited the Dutch islands of Texel and Terschelling. They are not native from (European) Northern Atlantic waters. It seems this sort of shells were first brought to Europe in the beginning of last centry when an American cruise ship which had departed from N.Y. arrived in France. After that, they rapidly spreaded around European waters - and the Mediterranean. The idea that you can eat such thing... bleargh ! I do eat octupus, squid (yum!) though... go figure.
THIS SECTION of the market is avegetarian's worst nightnare. Believe me: it is a fantastic market, far different from anything I have seen in Europe and in other parts of the world - and have seen a lot of food markets around the world.  I am not that shocked anymore. I have spared the readers of this blog from the most shocking photos.  And I am against humiliating food.
Ham !

OF COURSE you can also find herbs and spices in this market.

I was happy to quickly find a stall displaying spices called "La Parada de las Especias". I started a conversation with the vendor, who was a bit uncertain to do it in English - therefore I quickly shifted it into Spanish. He told me the difference of first quality saffron and a second quality one (he sold both) and to always pay attention to the expiry date. I bought a little box with 0,8g of superior quality saffron - enough for preparing three big paellas. He told me how to prepare a basic paella (duh! as if I had never done it before) and how to crush the saffran into powder  (ahn!? I had never done that), using a mortar or placing it inside of a folded paper and rolling a pen in order to crush it.
"Ah, si ? Not dissolving it in hot water ?" I argued.
"No !" - he replied.
"Muy bien. And where does your saffran come from ?" I asked.
"Toledo" - he answered.
"Oh, I am used to saffran from the Middle East, Egypt, Iran..." a silly comment of mine that made his wife turn her face away making a disgusting face as if the air was suddenly stinking. "
This is excellent Spanish superior saffran !" - he crossed his arms seriously and started to nod heavily.
At this point more clients - chic ladies in their 60's with lots of make up - were gathering around me and guaranteeing that it was the best saffron ever and that from other parts of the world were just crap.
"Bueno ! I have the best saffran to make the best paella in Holland ! Muchas gracias señor. Adios y un buen dia a todos!" -  and I exit just in time cause my husband coudn't understand a thing and was getting preocupied with so much talking.
Above: I have also bought this type of rice for paella, called Bomba.
The vendor advised me to add more water than usally needed for other types of rice. I wanna be the paella queen !


Zoe said...

Hi Anita!! Nice trip!! I love markets, there are so many different things!! Now I would like to go to Valencia as well!!

Invader_Stu said...

The building looks amazing... not so sure about the pigs heads though :p

Anita said...

ZOE, keep an eye on the blog, there is more to come.
STU, I guess you prefer the cute pigs in the form of sausages and spare ribs ?

LuRussa said...

Muito bacana ! todos os posts !!!

Em todo país que vou, eu faço questão de visitar o Mercado Central, acredito que é lá onde você encontra realmente a essência e o sabor do país.

Estou amando esses posts !!