There’s a vast difference between shopping in a supermarket compared to street markets and especially when it comes to food; the best food markets in the world are more of an experience than a mere shopping trip. If you’re wondering where you can get locally-grown, fresh, unusual and exotic, artisan and handcrafted delicacies, the best food markets have them in abundance.
1. Borough Market, London, England
Have you ever wanted to traverse through one of the world’s most historical, famous and best food markets? Borough Market in London is in the heart of the city, near London Bridge, and is around 250 years old. For general wholesale shopping go there Sunday to Wednesday. But if you’re a cheeky foodie who loves a good bargain and amazing quality food, go Thursday – Saturday when the big guns come out. Be amazed at what independent suppliers have to offer. Their different cheeses, startling boar sausages and ostrich burgers can really stir your deepest culinary curiosities.
2. La Vucciria, Palmero, Italy
Forget your preconceptions of a traditionally European market this side of Italy. Palmero is gritty, vivacious and full of ethnic pride. As you walk along this vibrant food market, you’ll hear the beating of Arabian drums and full-throated singing. La Vucciria is more akin to Middle Eastern markets, where you can find an array of barbecued meats and kebabs, but also fish and fruits.
3. Union Square Greenmarket, New York, USA
Union Square Greenmarket is one of the best food markets around the world for many reasons independent of simply great food. Union Square used to be the top hangout spot for junkies in the 1970s, then a chap called Barry Benepe did a great thing for struggling Hudson Valley farmers. He revitalized the area into becoming one of the best places to purchase seasonal and varied food. This is a real Cinderella story in the world of top food markets.
4. Ver-o-Peso, Belem, Brazil
As you can imagine, this Brazilian market is full of life and vigor. You’ll fall in love with its irresistible atmosphere and bizarre produce. As it is just off Belem’s Ver-o-Peso docks, they have a large array of odd-looking fish to tempt you with. But that’s not all; at this unique market place you can enter marquees that host spectacular food vendors, offering hot food and fruit.
5. Cours Saleya, Nice, France
If noisy and rambunctious food markets aren’t your style, head to Nice and browse the picturesque Cours Saleya. This quaint market is garnished with flowers and food, and the main ordeal is its bustling customers. Typically French, alongside this market you can find cafes and seafood restaurants.
6. Kreta Ayer Wet Market, Chinatown, Singapore
If you are at all acquainted with Chinese food markets, you’ll know what to expect from the Kreta Ayer Wet Market. Interesting fact: this market gets its name from literally being ‘wet.’ Cleaners regularly hose the floors down at this market to get rid of debris and dirt. It also adds to the atmosphere of the market’s produce: live eels, turtles, frogs and snakes. This is one of the best food markets around if you aren’t squeamish. You can also find ingredients for Chinese herbal medicines. But worry not, for those who like their food already cooked and not still wriggling, there is a food court upstairs which serves plenty of delicious local cuisine.
7. Mercado Central, Santiago, Chile
For those who love fish, this is one of the best fish markets in the world – in fact, the best. Its art nouveau canopy dates back to 1872, immediately giving it a historical and enchanting atmosphere. Beneath this magical canopy you can find an overwhelmingly varied selection of de fruits de mer, from giant squid to barnacles to the unnameable. Literally, lots of the produce is unnamed. The market is so exotic it stocks unknown sea creatures from outside of Chile, all with the intention of being put in a Chilean bouillabaisse. Anything goes!
8. St. Lawrence, Toronto, Canada
This is considered one of the greatest food markets because of its sheer size, fresh produce and variety. This market has been running for farmers since 1803. It now has over 120 retailers who are all willing to know who you are, what you like, and what’s new to recommend. This market also neighbors St Lawrence Hall, a gorgeous historical building that’s worth seeing in itself.
When traveling, visiting the best food markets adds wealth to the experience of a different country. So much culture is wrapped up in a country’s cuisine and the way its people shop for food. Even visiting the small food markets in your vacation destination are worth the trip; it will be full of sights and sounds and smells. For me, La Boqueria in Barcelona was a majorly memorable trip. Where’s your favorite food market?