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The Best Farmers Markets in the World (in No Particular Order!)
Every country has its culture, its customs, its cuisine. Every country’s cuisine originated with the vegetables, fruit and spices that could be found locally. In every country the farmer’s market provides an instant immersion into that locale’s culture and cuisine. Open air stalls show tourists, visitors and locals exactly what’s for sale and what to expect when traveling and dining in that area.
Farmers markets are nothing new. It’s an age-old way to shop, trade, barter and acquire the goods one needs. Bazaars are favorite tourist attractions around the world, where locally grown produce and locally made products can be found. Not all markets are made equal though. Here are ten of the world’s best farmers markets.
Mercado de la Merced, Mexico City
Mexico in general is known for color. Reds, greens and yellows are woven throughout traditional Mexican garments, echoing the range of colors found in their food. This market is no different. Brilliant and dazzling, the Mercado occupies four blocks of modern buildings and outdoor stalls along the streets. Pinatas dangle from the stalls, from which shoppers can purchase chiles, nopales (cactus), guavas, and queso blanco (white cheese). The first building is set aside for fruit and vegetables, but exploring the other buildings and stalls will show a cacophony of Mexican wares.
St. Lawrence Market, Toronto
This market houses itself in the historic former City Hall building. The farmers market takes place on Saturdays and features sweet Niagara peaches and tart Saskatoon berries. Other must-see/must-buy items range from a huge variety of meats and sausages to cheeses from 120 specialty vendors. If you’re hungry when you come, try the colossal $3 Canadian bacon sandwiches at the Carousel Bakery.
Mercat de la Boqueria, Barcelona
This Mediterranean-style market is a favorite with local chefs who hit the market first thing in the morning for the day’s supplies. Open air with open tables and umbrella-covered tables, Boqueria stalls sell everything from shellfish to succulent asparagus and prized mushrooms. It even has a cooking stall. If you are not squeamish, try the smoked baby squid. Come early, like the chefs, for the best pickings.
Mercato Coperto, Modeno
Not Italy’s largest market, but certainly it’s most beautiful. The Mercato Coperto is picturesque, showcasing everything that’s classic Italian. Come here for the atmosphere and to shop for peaches, figs, lovely displays of fresh egg pasta and the world’s best balsamic vinegar. Bring your appetite to try the panini at Shiavoni.
This market is simply awe-inspiring. With over 34,000 products from around the world, where is a shopper to start? Kadewe is actually a seven story department store, the second-largest in Europe. The sixth and seventh floors are devoted entirely to food. True to Germany, there are 1,200 wursts and sausages, 1,300 kinds of cheese, as well as exotic fruit and ostrich eggs. The Weine section has an incredible selection of German Rieslings.
Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi
Ever wanted to visit a classic bazaar with the noise, the crowds and different scents in the air? This bazaar won’t disappoint. Northern India’s largest outdoor market offers a huge array of masalas, dried fruit, candied fruit, tubs of paneer (fresh cheese), mangoes and one of the largest assortments of legumes you’ll ever see. The rickshaws and oxcarts just add to the ambience of this centuries-old city. While you shop, don’t miss the classical Indian architecture found throughout the streets.
Khan El-Khalili, Cairo
Located in the 14th century souk in the old Islamic quarter, Cairo’s grand bazaar is, well, grand. Much of the original buildings still stand, offering tourists an exquisite view of domed ceilings, or cloth banners lining the streets. Expect to find saffron and dried mint, melons, and ful (mashed fava beans). Rest your feet as you sip on a cup of mint tea in the 200-year-old El Fishawi café or visit one of the many traditional coffeehouses.
Kreta Ayer Wet Market, Singapore
After a day of being adventurous in this market, you might need a bowl of the spicy rice-noodle soup at the food center. Before that, however, brave the stalls of live snakes and turtles, a wide variety of Asian greens and curry blends. Located in the heart of Chinatown, the wet market so named because the floors are sprayed down with water often flooding areas in the market.
Pisac Sunday Market, Peru
Every Sunday villagers dress in native garments and drink chichi (corn beer) while haggling over beans, potatoes, sweet ricoto chiles and dyed alpaca. For centuries, and continuing to this day, Aymara Indians barter corn for freeze-dried potatoes with the Central Valley Quechua- speakers. This highland Andes town shows tourists what native Peru is all about.
Kauppatori Market, Helsinki
Started as a fish market in the 1700s, today look for the brightly-colored tent tops to find the market. “Kauppatori” means market square and should help you locate it. Cloudberries, ligonberries, strawberries, green peas, roasted meat pies, baskets of potatoes and cinnamon buns line stalls in this harborside market. The smoked reindeer sandwich makes an excellent lunch. After lunch, pick up a bright bunch of lilacs as a reminder of this festive market.
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© 2010 Cristina Vanthul