To market, to market—that’s where you should go when you feel like catching a glimpse of the true, gritty essence of a place.
Market folk don’t care what you think of their city. Market folk don’t dress in their Sunday best. They don’t speak softly, they don’t wait patiently, and they certainly don’t blanche at the sight of a little blood.
On one of our last days in Málaga, Spain, we visited the Mercado Atarazanas, or Central Market. "Atarazanas" evidently means “place where ships are repaired” in Arabic, indicating that during Moorish times (back in the 1300s) when sea level was higher, this building sat on the edge of the water. Over the centuries its purpose has changed from shipyard to convent to military barracks to hospital to school to what it is today—an architecturally stunning warehouse of culinary adventure.
It was all I could do to wander from stall to stall, absorbing the smorgasbord of colors and sounds and smells. Meandering first through the stalls of fresh produce and dry goods, sweet scents of candy and vine-ripened fruits filled my nose. Sounds of washed, rustling greens and the clatter of nuts scooped from bins. Fresh spices and dried fruits and house-made vinegars and oils. And the olives. Oh, the plethora of rich, briny olives. In the land of meats were shells and bones and the putrid stench of fresh-cut flesh—where the only color to exist, it seems, is pink.
If you're a foodie traveling through Málaga, don't skip the market. 'Nuff said.