To Market, To Market Wherever We Are
The windows of our third floor apartment are open to let in the cooler morning air and the sounds of a bustling barrio in Valencia, Spain. From our balcony, we watch students on their way to class and neighbours out shopping. The cafe on the little Plaça below has already set up all of its outdoor tables, chairs and umbrellas, and is doing a nice little business serving espressos. The sky is clear blue, the breeze, soft, and all around stand buildings that have stood the test of time, through war and floods and Franco. Our view is onto the Torres de Serranos, one of the remaining towers of the stone wall that encircled the inner city. Built in 1392, it is still used to open important festivals and is visited most days by passing tourists.
But today, we are headed in the other direction, right through the heart of the old town to gather food at the market. When we travel, as in Goshen, we enjoy making meals from fresh ingredients. Market days in Goshen are on Tuesdays and Saturdays; here, the market is open six days a week, except for holidays. With more than 300 vendors, you can find just about everything you need to cook a wonderful meal. As we climb the stairs to this large, modernist building, we can already smell the fishmongers. We stop at one booth to buy shrimp. Then, it’s on to the produce vendor for fava beans, garlic, tomatoes and red pepper, the spice vendor for saffron and sweet smoked paprika, the poultry vendor for chicken, the pork vendor for sausage, and finally, the dried bean and pasta vendor for noodles. With all of our ingredients at hand, we know we will be able to cook up a great noodle paella, one of the specialties of the region. While I am there, I see chanterelles and I can’t resist getting a few. I ask the woman beside me how she likes to fix them. She immediately replies, “Just fry them in a little bit of olive oil, with garlic and parsley.” So we go find the greens vendor and get some parsley.
Our bag is full as we leave that busy place. And we didn’t even get ham or cheese. That will be for the next time. Our walk home takes us through tiny streets with sunny plazas where people are sitting enjoying a glass of wine or a cup of coffee. We walk behind and around the cathedral to its shiny marbled plaza and its large fountain where more people sit at more tables. We continue through the pedestrian street lined with tall stone buildings with ornate balconies and large wooden doors, through another plaza with tables. We carry our bag up the seventy some stairs to our apartment, unload its contents, and turn around and go right back down.
While in Valencia, do as the Valencians. We find a table on the plaza around the corner, a quiet spot with shade from the noonday sun, and order drinks and watch the people go by. It’s our turn to sit and let the world slow down and soak in a culture that encourages taking the time for good food and family and friends. As we add to the conversations going on around us, we notice that the sound of voices has taken over the sound of cars. Human connection is what makes this world tick. As I return to Goshen, I will carry this with me.