A Spain Diary – Day 2: Vignettes and Mercado

amber bougainvillea in bright sunlight against a white wall

The Mercado in Cádiz is a glorious place.

Its central cool and covered courtyard the place for all the fishmongers, with specialists for shellfish, cuttlefish and squid, gilt-head bream (dorada, so often mistranslated), and of course the gold of Cádiz, red tuna, whose main season is May and June. Around the outside of that thronging central courtyard are the fruit and vegetable sellers, the butchers and bakers, the sellers of cured iberico ham and local cheeses.

a large head of tuna in the central market

In the evening the market opens up again, and units around the market open up selling sherries and wines, beers, vermouth and tapas of all sorts: perfectly fried fish, tortilla, burgers, paella, as well as speciality units for sushi, burritos, noodles. It is a place for meeting before going out dancing, or to a restaurant, or to stroll the town or tonight to the annual regatta. All ages are there, classes too, though like the city generally it skews informal, cheerful, still broadly working class.

I get tortillitas de camarones, delicious herbed fritters of tiny shrimp that are one of the local specialities. They take your order and then as the fried fish of all sorts are completed yell out your name. If it happens you don’t respond, the young man with the exuberant mullet will hold the back of his hand where the thumb and forefinger meet under his chin and bellow the name again in loud tones. A tortilla of pepper and onion follows, followed by aroz negro, darkened by cuttlefish or squid ink, with aioli and all with glasses of local white wine.

a queue of people in a market colonnade awaiting fried fish

tortillitas de camarones

rice (aroz negro) with a white dollop of aioli

A slow stroll round the city, a lemon sorbet, and then deep, deep sleep.

Author: diasyrmus

A melancholy emblem of parish cruelty.

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