I awake to the sound of clanking metal and chatter outside my window. I know it must be Thursday, el dia del Mercadillo en Roquetas. The vendors set up their wares and produce stands on the street outside my bedroom window. Every Thursday I return home from work-grab my shopping bag and wallet and go down a flight of stairs and out the door into the market, ager to buy my produce for the coming week.
I’ve always loved outdoor markets and over the last several years have tried my best to buy most of my produce from Farmers’ Markets, a place to connect with the person who grows your food and be in touch with the seasons. Tomatoes and Watermelon in summer, Kale and beets in Winter, cherries in Spring as the list goes on.
But the market in Roquetas isn’t exactly a Farmer’s Market, every vendor seems to be selling the same fruits and vegetables with varying quality and prices. Seasons don’t seem to matter. I’ve been able to buy tomatoes, eggplants and peppers every week, regardless of the month or cold weather since I live in the land of invernaderos (green houses). Most produce is grown year round in these massive plastic “houses” providing Spain and the rest of Europe, vegetables and fruits all year. occasionally, I’ll notice a season make its way to market such as strawberries and now cherries but over all when veggies and fruits naturally grow doesn’t exist at the market.
I still love buying my fruits and veggies the market because it reminds me of home but I do miss eating seasonally and knowing what’s growing in the fields. I’ve tried to ask some vendors and they always name a place and mention it doesn’t grow in a green house but I found it hard to believe. Sometimes, I think the produce sold at the market is excess produce f they can’t sell on the export market because they have exceeded their quota but I’m not sure. I know in other areas of Andalucia, they’re in touch with their seasons as Lauren from Spanish Sabores writes. However, interestingly enough with all the food production in the Costa del Sol, including Almeria, most of the produce is exported and Almerians don’t even get to enjoy some of the veggies and fruits grown here, such as cherry tomatoes! But the RAF tomatoes, an Almeria cultivation are everywhere! Crazy world we live in!
The market isn’t just produce, there is also other food including olives, cheese, nuts and dried fruit, rotisserie chicken and bread
There are always at least three to four plant vendors!
Here is just a sampling of what you’ll find. I’d guess there are over 200 vendors selling clothes, shoes, household appliances, print art, fabric, make-up, under-wear and bras, swimsuits, scarves, cheap jewelry, sunglasses and even Spanish music…I often wonder how they compete because many vendors will have the same or similar items but they must sell or they wouldn’t keep returning, right?
Thankfully the food is all in one section. I think I’d get tired of walking through the crowds just to stock up my fridge.
Some people just set up items to sell on a blanket. I think it’s “illegal” but every week I see people selling statues, pirated DVD’s, cologne, sunglasses, you name it.
I also love seeing the people of Roquetas out and about. Since Roquetas is a long town that hugs the coastline and is a popular Spanish summer destination, I often feel that not many people live here. On Market day, It’s PACKED and sometimes I have to be super patient to walk through the market; elder couples walk hand in hand, mom’s push strollers and some people, oblivious to the crowd, just stop and ponder their life. Or rather remember what they came to the market for…
And you’ll see the Germans who live in Roquetas enjoying the sunshine and eating sausages! And all their bikes parked nearby.
There are also a few churro stands too. Almost everything you can think up is at the market!
Do you like shopping at outdoor markets? Have something like this in your town? What is your favorite part about them?
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