This is Valencia food market. A place full of fresh produce, spices, wine, wonderful hams and fish. A paradise for anybody who likes to cook and who likes to feast their eyes on real food. It's a place where ordinary people shop for the ingredients for their meals and where you can touch and smell the fresh food on offer.
Pretty much everywhere I go, I try and find at least one food market. Or any kind of market. I believe that a market is the place where you are most likely to see locals going about their everyday business. A food market especially lets you peek into the lifestyle habits of the people living in the area and will give you a good idea about what they eat, how they cook and what is important in their lives. There's also - literally - something more organic about a food market than a supermarket. Something that feels more natural and more connected to real food, cooking and family life.
Every time I come back home from France - or in this case Spain, I wonder why it is so difficult to find this kind of thing here in the UK? Why is it that what's known as 'a market' in other countries is being branded as 'a farmer's market' over here and a piece of cheese will eat into your mortgage repayments? Don't get me wrong, I love a trip to 'the farmer's market' and I am in the fortunate position to be able to afford to shop there on occasion. I could possibly shop there more often, but whilst I value quality and what's on offer, I object to being taken for a mug and pay over the odds for something that has been branded 'artisan'. So it does become very quickly obvious that these kind of markets are mainly aimed at people with a (very) healthy income. You won't see all the housewives doing their regular shopping for fresh produce on these markets like you do in France, Spain or other countries. To be honest, I simply don't get it.
I wonder whether it's a cultural thing. People here seem to be hooked on supermarkets - though I realise that it's not always by choice. I know some people who will do a big once-a-week food shop and be done with it. To me, even after many years in this country, this concept still seems strange. I tend to shop for fresh food several times a week, usually in quantities that I can carry home by foot. I rarely do the kind of food shop that might require me to load up the entire boot of my car. Ok, admittedly, part of it is down to the fact that I simply don't know on Monday what I might feel like cooking on Tuesday, but you get the idea. Of course I use supermarkets (though I also use our fab local butcher and a fish monger, but the latter already requires me to drive there due to distance) because they're open every day of the week and I can walk home with my shopping. However, if I had the choice - and I so wish I did - I'd be at the food market every other day sampling fresh produce and deciding which ingredients to throw together for our next meal.