The highlight of my trip to Madrid (besides seeing such a good friend) was Mercado de San Miguel. Just around the corner from Plaza Mayor, Mercado de San Miguel is one of the oldest markets in Madrid, but recently under went a new renovation that I found pretty spectacular. The market has been around since the early 1800s, but received this look in the early 2oth century. The latest renovation took place 10 years ago. The covered market offers hundreds of selections of fruits, vegetables, meats, drinks, and tapas offerings like olive dishes, empanadas, paella, and croquettes.
The market was packed on a Saturday afternoon with people enjoying a cold beer or glass of wine with friends. Finding a place to sit, or even stand, was a bit difficult, but most people seemed happy to share their table.
First, we stopped by the Jamon (ham) station. Our tour guide for the day, Borja, was a friend of my friend Dani, and a Madrid local. Dani (an American and Colombian) told me the Spanish ham was basically like prosciutto, and he gasped! How dare she say that! Prosciutto is the Italian’s canned tuna to Spain’s yellow finned tuna. The Jamón Ibérico is a cured ham that comes from specially bread pigs. They are raised with a special diet. The most expensive ham comes from pigs that are fed only acorns for the last part of their life. One leg costs at least 1500 Euros and can run up to 6000 Euro! Borja also told us that is very common to gift this ham to special people and business contacts and middle to upper class Spaniards usually keep a leg in their home at all times. Cutting the ham is also a special art and takes rigorous training to slice the ham commercially.
At the market, we had our own tapas lunch with some Spanish beer, croquettes filled with cheese, chorizo, jamon, and more, paella, and Jamon Iberico. It was all delicious. Plus, I really love the tapas concept. I am really indecisive when it comes ordering off a menu, so getting to sample a bit of everything and share with friends was so much fun!
You bet I didn’t pass Duty Free at the airport without picking up some Jamon, Manchego cheese, and Rioja wine!
What would you be sure to eat in Madrid?