My very favorite thing to do as a tourist is to shop for food. Usually the first stop I make in a new place is at the supermarket, where I take my time strolling down each of the aisles, noticing all that is interesting and different from other grocery stores. Next, I find out when the next open market will be held, and where. Shopping at open markets is one of my very favorite things in the world to do. As I have mentioned before, shopping at open markets is a formative experience from my childhood in the Philippines, which I have always tried to continue no matter where I have lived. And I love sharing markets here with you! There’s one we shopped at in the more ethnic outskirts of Paris, our local market where I shopped twice a week when we lived in Amberg, Germany, a visit to a Turkish spice market, our market experience in Brugges, an artisan market in Suffolk, and here is our local open market in Bury St. Edmunds.
So when we arrived in Tenerife last week, the first order of business after settling in to our place in Icod de los Vinos was to locate a supermarket and then find out about the open market. Luck would have it that it was happening the next morning, a 15 minute drive from us, in La Guancha. This market is only held in the mornings on Saturday and Sunday, and here is the info in case you are lucky enough to find yourself in the area. And this is just one of the views on the drive. So beautiful!! (Sigh.)
There were lots of people there, and although plenty looked like either foreigners or tourists, it was clear that a stop at the market after church on a Sunday was just standard routine for many local families. Lots of people were standing around chatting and eating, and the environment was relaxed and warm.
All the vendors seemed to love Amelia, and she had her cheeks pinched and hair caressed and was handed as much fruit as she could eat. Even Jeff and I were given bananas, and no one was pushy about us buying anything, but we were offered plenty of samples. I loved seeing a blend of produce– things I ate in the Philippines as a kid, produce that grows beautifully in Southern California where I’m from, plus root veggies and brassicas that are ubiquitous here and in other cooler climates. All of it grows locally in Tenerife! Here’s a new fruit I had never tried before. It’s called tamarillo, and seems to be related to both a tomato and passion fruit, but grows on a tree. You slice the top off and suck out the seeds, or slice it in half and scoop them out with a spoon. It’s not very sweet (like a ripe tomato) but has perfume-y notes similar to passion fruit. Apparently, it was new to a lot of people– the lady selling it had a lot of explaining to do!
There were lots of herb stands– for culinary use, medicinal purposes (including packets of dried stevia leaves) and for planting in the garden. Fresh herbs and citrus are ingredients I pine for daily. I can buy them here in the UK, but of course none of the citrus is ever local and has made an exhausting journey by the time it reaches me. And the fresh herbs lack the vigor of having grown in the sunshine, for most of the year at least. So, I was in heaven.
We brought home loads of fruit, vegetables, and herbs. We also picked up a hard local cheese (I can’t remember the name, but it was sheeps milk and very much like a caramel-y parmesan) and some seriously delicious local sausages. To be honest, we left before I felt truly ready to go– which always seems to be the case. But I had walked by each stall four times, and was beginning to feel kind of conspicuous! We ate extremely well all week, cooking most of our meals at home and tasting flavors I had been missing for what felt like a lifetime of living in northern climates.
I hope you enjoyed visiting the Mercadillo Agricultór with us!