Saturday, 18 June 2016

A foodie visit to Madrid

I've recently returned from a few days in Madrid.  It was somewhere I went to many years ago and fell in love with the place.

Madrid is the spiritual home of Tapas.  Although times have changed, it is still almost unheard of not to have a bowl of olives, crisps or similar arrive with your drink.

Sadly times have changed and the tapas bars aimed more at tourists than locals now seem to predominate along with several international chains.  So sad it is when the typical food stores crop up on the streets of cities.  The MacDonalds, Burger Kings etc.  But then just occasionally something crops up which is really special.  In Madrid there is a food market, Mercado de San Miguel which has outlasted the local community.  This has now been lovingly transferred to being the ultimate tapas joint.  Think of it as the Spanish answer to a hawker centre as you'd have in Singapore and you'd be halfway there.

Mercado de San Miguel

The only downside to the joy of this place was just how busy it was.  I mean it was nuts, so much so I skipped it in the evening and returned at lunchtime on a week day.

Still busy!

But in here was the ultimate in civilised experience.  Wonder around, buy what looks good and find a space either in the centre perched, sharing the experience with strangers (perhaps soon to be friends?)  Or sit on one of the steps.  Several bars are in the centre but also, and here is the really civilised bit, there are a couple of guys walking around with wine bottles.

Were this in the UK, apart from the food perhaps not being quite so amazing, if alcohol were served, it would be in disappointing plastic "glasses" for fear of theft or damage.  Nope, proper wine glasses and proper food.

A lesson for us all. Fast food can be real food.

I took it all in, nibbled, drank wine, nibbled some more while looking at some of the stalls of produce ready to be cooked or cut to order.

It was an experience.  Outside the typical experience I'd had in Spain and made me fall in love with Madrid all over again.  Mad, busy, touristy as hell but actually, to my mind, touristy done right.  Worth a visit if you're ever in town.

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