The hidden Secrets of Feria Food Market

I´ve been a bit quiet of late, purely because blogging about Sevilla seemed impossible somehow while holed up in the green and pleasant lands of the Isle of Wight. A post about the quaintest spot for cream tea or my top ten village fetes would have been no problem, but what´s hot in Sevilla felt a lifetime away.

 TBut I´m back, and it´s all change, no longer an Alameda chick, I´m embracing ´barrio´ life as I familiarise myself with the nooks and crannies of the Macarena, so expect a few up and coming entries that stray from my usual patch, but before I depart these trusted shores and start blogging about el Poligono Norte (heavens forbid), there´s one pocket of Sevilla life that pulsates like no other, and that is the food market on Calle Feria. Containing the usual suspects of fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and fish, plus the more gourmet variants such as a homemade pasta stall and a tiny baking boutique called ‘Suave como Bizcocho’ that´s packed to the rafters with cake making paraphernalia, this jewel in the crown of Calle Feria is something I missed unreservedly as I wiled away the hours taking in the bucolic landscapes of the motherland.
Speaking as a Brit who until coming to Spain had known nothing other than pushing a trolley around the brightly lit aisles of Sainsburies and other well known supermarkets, shopping in a traditional food market was initially a bit of a mysterious business. From first glance it always seemed a bit like a free for all, with minute, black-clad grannies shouting their extensive orders over the tops of a colourful array of market produce. But there are rules to follow and if you stick to them, market life becomes somewhat less confusing. First, be sure to find out who is the last person in the queue by sending out into the ether the all important ´Quien es el ultimo?´ Then look alert, in this game, if you snooze, you lose, particularly if you´re obviously honed from guiri cloth. When your turn finally comes, pointing is fine, umming and ahhing is not, and smiling will probably result in a heart warming salutation of ´hija´ or ´hijo´ (son/ daughter) or maybe even a ‘guapa’ if you’re lucky (and a girl).
The market also offers one of the most deeply Sevillian eating experiences I’ve encountered. Tucked away at the back of the market and nestling against the walls of the neighbouring church, is La Cantina, a rough and ready homage to the local culinary obsession, ‘Pescaito’ or fried fish. For those familiar with the British traditional favourite of fish and chips (which apparently we eat day in, day out, alongside an occasional slab of over cooked Roast beef), this bears no resemblance to what you’ll find in your local chippy. Here the fish are teeny tiny, the biggest reaching the proportions of a sardine, the fact you’ve got the fish market next door means that it’s been a pretty quick journey from the sea to your plate, and they lie somewhat lighter in your stomach that a battered cod and soggy chips. But this isn’t dining for the meek and mild, as there’s no table service and ordering your catch of the day involves an assured presence and ordering technique at the bar. Get there at a sensible Anglo Saxon eating hour and hopefully you’ll avoid feeling like a rabbit in the headlights as all around you get served before you.
If eating creatures of the deep aren’t your thing, there’s also Pitscasso, specialising in that pitta filler and my personal favourite the falafel. These are quality falafels, and go far beyond the kind of offering you find in kebab houses around the Alameda (which weirdly always taste of curry powder regardless of which one you go to). You can choose from red ones and green ones, the green variety being laced with tastebud tantalising addition of spearmint, plus a wide variety of salads and other healthy dishes.
So Feria market has got it all. If you want an unsanitised Seville experience, where you will at times feel inept and stressed at your woeful language skills, yet satisfied as you finally master your vegetable ordering stage fright and ultimately charmed by the warmth of the market traders who greet you like their long lost offspring.
 Mercado de la Calle Feria: opening hours from 8am until 2.30pm Monday – Saturdays
Pitacasso, Plaza de Calderón de la Barca, 10, Sevilla
La Cantina, Mercado de la Calle Feria: opening hours 12pm – 5.30pm

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