Summer Produce in Spain’s Markets

The lifestyle in every great Spanish town revolves around daily trips to the market for fresh fruits and vegetables.

The lifestyle in every great Spanish town revolves around daily trips to the market for fresh fruits and vegetables.

After two weeks Airbnb-ing around Spain, friends and family asked me, “What was your favorite part about Spain? Was it Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, or was it seeing Goya, Velazquez, and El Greco at the Prado?” My answer every time is “the tomatoes.”

The Mediterranean climate makes Spain the perfect place to grow technicolor produce. I learned that Spain is the world’s largest producer of olive oil and the third-largest producer of wine; both statistics surprised me, but after two weeks of eating the best fruits and vegetables I’ve ever enjoyed in my entire life, it was no longer surprising to me that everyone else in the world would want to get their hands on some Spanish olives and grapes.

Fresh produce lunch on the charming outdoor terrace at my delightful Airbnb in Valencia.

Fresh produce lunch on the charming outdoor terrace at my delightful Airbnb in Valencia.

Here’s the best meal I had during my two weeks in Spain. While staying at an amazing Airbnb in Valencia on Spain’s east coast in Barrio Russafa, I grabbed a basket and strolled one block to the Mercado. in fact, I could see the amazing colored panels from my bedroom balcony. By the way, my Airbnb cost only $35  per night and was conveniently located to the mercado, beach, and Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias.

Mercado Russafa- "Mercat" is the Catalan, spoken in Valencia.

Mercado Russafa- “Mercat” is the Catalan, spoken in Valencia.

I came back from the mercado with the most bulbous, dense, consistently colored, vibrant tomato. I sliced it onto a fresh baguette and topped it off with a perfect creamy  avocado and drizzled it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I garnished with cracked black pepper and lime juice.

"Mercat Central" or Mercado Central is another great bustling place to get fresh produce in Valencia.

“Mercat Central” or Mercado Central is another great bustling place to get fresh produce in Valencia.

Worth mentioning is that a thirty-minute walk away from my Airbnb is Valencia’s much larger Mercat Central. I picked up a few things there one afternoon while exploring the older historic district, but what with having Mercado Russafa so close to my place, I was all set.

Tomatoes at Madrid's Mercado San Miguel. Notice in Spain they don't want you pawing through the fruits. The shop-keeper chooses for you.

Tomatoes at Madrid’s Mercado San Miguel. Notice in Spain they don’t want you pawing through the fruits. The shop-keeper chooses for you.

My onward quest for more beautiful tomatoes was satisfied in Madrid as well at popular Mercado San Miguel. I won’ t spend much time here talking about food in Madrid, since they have a huge foodie scene; I’ll devote an entire separate post to everything I ate in Madrid!

Motorcycles wait for their owners who are inside chowing down on high stools at counters inside Mercado San Miguel.

Motorcycles wait for their owners who are inside chowing down on high stools at counters inside Mercado San Miguel.

I want to end today’s post with the most vibrant assortment of colors I saw in all of Spain. Barcelona has the craziest offerings of fresh fruit juices and shakes at the famous Boqueria market. It’s a trap for tourists and locals alike; foot traffic is heavy. Be patient, and devote at least two hours.

Yes, these brilliant colors do occur in nature- in Spain apparently!

Yes, these brilliant colors do occur in nature- in Spain apparently!

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