Why do we travel? What is the difference between going somewhere and looking at pictures of it on the Internet? Is it the scenery? The food?’
The answer is: the people.
Take Gonzalo, for insntance. Gonzalo was a tall man in what looked to be his late 50s, seemingly inconspicuous in his white polo and jeans. As my friends and I walked down the street and turned the corner, he greeted us out of nowhere.
“Do you know this market?” he asked us in English that was heavily tinted with a Spanish accent. We looked behind him and noticed high arched doors that opened, leading into a large white building. “Come!” Gonzalo said. “Come see the market.”
We followed him inside and found a huge hall full of cooking stations and bars – and people. People that were mingling, drinking out of wine glasses, and seeking cool refuge from the stifling afternoon.
My friends and I had spent the entire morning wandering up and down Calle Feria, a street in Seville known for its vintage and thrift stores. After hours of walking around, we were starving. Luckily, Mercado de Feria had precisely what we wanted.
Gonzalo explained to us that the market offered several varieties of cuisine, from traditional Andalusian rice dishes to Japanese-inspired plates. As is typical in Spain, the food was offered in the form of tapas, essentially meaning that you could have a small amount of any dish of your choosing, allowing you to sample many different types of cuisine. And as always, having a drink is crucial to the enjoyment of your meal!
After grabbing our plates and drinks and sitting down to eat, Gonzalo came by to see how we were doing and told us more about where we were.
Mercado de Feria is one of the oldest markets in Andalusia, and is now owned and operated by our friendly host Gonzalo, who has big dreams for keeping this place running. Like a few of the old European restaurant owners I have met throughout the years, Gonzalo was very much in-tune with what would bring the young folks back to his market. He told us about a live DJ who would be playing in the market that coming Sunday, and other events he had lined up for the week. It was unfortunate we were leaving the very next day, as wandering around a market with music and dancing going on sounded exciting and very “hip-European.”
The food was amazing and we all went back for seconds, but the one thing we found to be missing was the sangria. When asked, the bartender claimed that they did not serve sangria in the market. We asked Gonzalo why the hell he wasn’t serving the most popular tourist drink in Spain, and he introduced us Tinto de Verano.
“This,” Gonzalo said, “Is better than sangria.” Tinto de Verano is a traditional Andalusian drink that he said was much healthier than sangria, as it lacked all the excess sugar that gives sangria its overly sweet flavor. Tinto de Verano is a simple concoction of red wine, lemon soda, and ice, and is just as tasty as sangria, but far more classy.
If you ever find yourself in Seville, or in the Andalusian region, do yourself a favor and drop by Calle Feria. Do some vintage shopping, then stop to have lunch at the Mercado de Feria. Perhaps Gonzalo will be there, waiting to show you around his wonderful fresh market. There might even be a DJ.
All photos credited to Nicole Manguramas.