Seafood is the best example of no-frills food; it doesn’t even need to be cooked. In many cases, it doesn’t need to be gutted or boned, or even killed.
One of my favourite places to enjoy the oceans’ unadorned offerings is Mercado de la Cebada in La Latina. Despite this markets colossal equidistance from any sea or ocean, it’s host to dozens of fantastic seafood stalls with fish as fresh as it comes. On a weekday you can buy your usual weight of fish for supper, but it’s something else that gives this place its name.
Every Saturday, all of the seafood stalls group together and transform the mercado aisles into electric avenues of seafood bars. By midday, Mercado de la Cebada’s unique seafood party is in full swing.
GET STUCK IN
Find one of the aproned fish mongers nestled amongst the vibrant foodie crowd and place your order by weight. Octopus (pulpo), prawns (gambas), raw tuna (bonito crudo) and mussels (mejillones) are popular choices and come with a lathering of olive oil and deep red pimenton.
Within about five seconds your transaction has been processed and you’re being pointed in the direction of a bucket on the floor. Here your free iced bottle of white wine awaits you, and above it you’ll find your plastic cups and sporks (spoon-forks). Hands full, find the nearest stack of paper-covered crates to prop today’s catch on and don’t be shy to shack up with another group – being packed into the aisles like sardines is all part of the pun fun.