SPAIN // Market Days

Olives at Playa Flamenca market

This time last week I was in the middle of a little getaway to the Costa Blanca, enjoying some downtime under the warmth of the Spanish sun. It was a very laid-back affair - a welcome opportunity to do as little as possible and allow ourselves a break from "real" life. We spent a lot of time wandering around the local area, exploring along the canal and relaxing at the house with board games and books. Mostly, I was just glad to appreciate the sunshine - the dry weather and longer days a welcome reprieve from the dreich, dark Scotland we left behind! 

One of the greatest pleasures of our trip was having the time and space to prepare and enjoy some good quality food. Meal times are a tricky concept for me at the minute and it's so easy to let cooking slide by the wayside when it's only me at home. It was really gratifying to have other people to cook with, especially when we had such excellent ingredients on hand. 

Even in the supermarkets, fruit and vegetables in Spain are fresh, delicious and so cheap. In terms of both price and quality, our goods here in the U.K. just can't compete. But when it comes to the produce available on the local markets? Oh. My. Days! 

Oranges tomatoes onions - Playa Flamenca market Orihuela

There are markets all across the Orihuela Costa region on different days of the week: Tuesdays in Orihuela; Wednesdays in Guardamar; Thursdays in Cabo Roig; Fridays in Torrevieja.. 

We popped along to the market at Playa Flamenca on Saturday morning - our first full day in Spain - and despite being a small-ish market in the middle of winter, we were spoilt for choice wherever we looked!  Brilliantly coloured fruit and enormous veg; pick'n'mix sweets; baskets of eggs; bag upon bag of spices and flavourings; huge meringues; freshly baked bread; dried fruit; pies and cakes and pastries; and all the olives you could ever hope for..

Just look at all that food!

Dried fruit - Playa Flamenca market Orihuela
Green vegetables - Playa Flamenca market Orihuela
Flowers and strawberries - Playa Flamenca market Orihuela
Meringues and cakes - Playa Flamenca market Orihuela
Doughnuts - Playa Flamenca market Orihuela
Pastries - Playa Flamenca market Orihuela
Candy - Playa Flamenca market Orihuela
Savouries and bread - Playa Flamenca market Orihuela
Pick n mix sweets - Playa Flamenca market Orihuela
Dried fruit - Playa Flamenca market Orihuela
Olives - Playa Flamenca market Orihuela

We walked back to the house laden down with bags of tasty treats, having only spent around £20 between the three of us! With the addition of a few shop-bought bits and pieces, we were able to cook up most of our meals for the week: salads and sandwiches; pasta in a sauce full of sweet, juicy cherry tomatoes, red pepper and aubergine; enchiladas packed with peppers, onions and green beans, with a wonderful sweet paprika flavour; a mammoth pot of vegetable curry, made with sweet potato and perhaps the largest cauliflower I've ever seen; and snacks of strawberries, dates, dried figs, and, of course, plenty of cake. Yummy!

If you ever find yourself self-catering in Spain, I'd definitely recommend checking out the bargains at your nearest street market. Unlike the pushy vendors of other countries I've visited (I'm looking at you, Tunisia!), the laid-back Spanish approach to selling makes visiting the market a pleasant and enjoyable cultural experience in and of itself. And, hey.. what's not to love about having a holiday this tasty and cheap?!

Have you had any market experiences - good or bad - of your own? I'd love to know!


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