A trip to the local market.
As the summer begins here in the beautiful Jalon Valley and the temperature starts to rise we have to change our routine accordingly. When you live here it is essential to enjoy those few hours in the morning before the heat “kicks in”. You may just use the time to enjoy your morning coffee in your favourite spot and maybe do a few chores that become more difficult to face as the day gets hotter.
There is no alarm to wake us at this time of year, only the birds singing outside your window and the first rays that promise a day of glorious sunshine.
It is one of the real pleasures of life here in the Jalon Valley, a trip to the local market. Every pueblo and town in Spain has its own market day so you can pick and choose which ones you go to. There are fresh fruit and vegetables, a wonderful selection of cured meats and fish, marinated olives, nuts and seeds and a delicious and tempting selection of sweet treats. Most of the markets also sell clothes for all ages and leather goods as well as bedding, towels and kitchenware. If you’re looking for gifts there are some lovely stalls selling jewellery and souvenirs.
The local market in Jalon is in the Plaza Mayor, on the doorsteps of the beautiful old church. Normally a sleepy little plaza, on Tuesday mornings it is a hive of activity. The stall holders take great pride in displaying their wares and , if you don’t spend a cent, it’s worth going just to feast your eyes on the beautiful selection of perfectly fresh and locally sourced produce.
Our Tuesday mornings begin with some noisy encouragement from Hector, our pointer. It never ceases to amaze us that he knows it’s Tuesday and he knows it’s market day. Our route takes us through almond and orange groves and vineyards and allows Hector the chance to chase a rabbit or two, not that he’s ever going to catch one ( but don’t tell him that ). Then onwards into town where the market traders are just setting up for the day. Hector is well known in town and enjoys being made a fuss of but doesn’t much like shopping so he lies down to rest at the doors to Bar Rull http://www.rull-placa.empresa3.es/ to wait for us.
In the UK one doesn’t think any-more about what’s “in season”, everything is, because it comes from far and wide and a lot of it is imported, shipped for every corner of the globe. Here, it probably hasn’t travelled more than a few short kilometres in the back of a rusty old tractor. Fresh doesn’t mean refrigerated or frozen it means it was picked this morning. It’s not rocket science, you just have to look at it to know it’s good.
There is no use for the shopping list here, you buy what looks and smells the best and is recommended by the stall holders. A good tip is to watch the old Spanish ladies (although it has to be said, if the best is going fast, they don’t tend to act like ladies!) and follow their lead. If anyone can spot the sweetest peaches at the cheapest price these girls can! They may look rather deadly as they fill their hand pulled shopping trolleys to overflowing but they will be delighted to chat with you, should you decide to test your Spanish out and they give great advice on what’s best to buy and if it’s cheaper round the corner!
Our first shopping trip was a revelation. As we handed over our carefully selected items to be weighed and priced we realised we had gone a tad over the top when the seller handed back two large carrier bags (recycled, por supuesto!) with a request for 14 Euros!
It was a moment we would get used to quickly in our new experiences here in Spain, that feeling of having so much for so little!
The weekly supplies in hand we finish our shopping with a well deserved cafe con leche y tostada in Bar Rull and Hector gets a crust or two from all his friends.
There is a great sense of satisfaction in this weekly trip. It is a great thing to fill ones fridge with nutritious and delicious food, it inspires a love of healthy summer salads, beans and pulses to make our favourite paellas or heart-warming winter vegetable soups and casseroles in the colder months. If you live near enough to walk in, so much the better. To combine it with a brisk (some prefer leisurely!) walk in the campo watching the world wake up is a great way to set you up for the day. In the hottest part of the summer months it is a great comfort to know you can then have a guilt free lazy afternoon in the shade.
A list of some of the local and coastal markets
Monday- Parcent, Denia
Tuesday- Jalon, Altea
Wednesday- Orba, Benidorm
Thursday- Benidoleig, Javea
Friday- Gata de Gorgos, Moraira
Saturday- Jalon Rastro (flea market)
Good health is a way of life here in the Jalon Valley…….It’s a long way to the nearest fast food joint and isn’t that just fine by us?!