Looking for some of Andalucia‘s finest cured cheese? Need some veggies for a fresh Gazpacho? Want some top quality spiced chicken? Craving a hunk of dark, crusty rye bread? Well, I know a guy. A few actually! Javi’s already thought of the perfect Manchego for your meal. María Jose’s on it, picking you the reddest, ripest tomatoes out there. Sol Marie has the loaves freshly baked, two for a euro, and Hassan’s your magical meat man, chipper to chop you your perfect cut.
Riddle me this: Why would you go food shopping at 1 place when you can go to 4??
Sure, there are big supermarkets here in Granada like Mercadona, where you can buy all your grocery needs in one sitting. However, I choose to do it the hard way. Why, you ask?
Well, I’ll show you! Come take a walk with me through my barrio.
Shopping bags ready?
First stop? Javi, my jamón and cheese man.
No Spanish shopping cart is complete without some freshly cut jamón and cheese and Javi is your man. Born and raised in Granada‘s Albaicín, not only does he know his local products like the back of his hand, but the man has got some serious passion for all things cured. He got into the business 7 years ago for the love of cheese, and hasn’t looked back. So, you say you want some spicy chorizo for a stew? Tell him your recipe and he’ll take you to exactly what you’re looking for.
FIND IT: Mercado San Augustin, Booth 27 (Antigua Alacena)
Then, to my fabulous fruit lady.
My girl María Jose is jolly, eccentric, and she’s got the best damn fruit in town. Sometimes you might catch her soulfully singing Flamenco tunes while attending a client. Other times, she’s yelling at you from across the room, “guapa, you’re going to LOVE those tomatoes! They’re like candy!” Then, she’ll proceed to make some jokes with you in heavy Andalucian Spanish, in which you probably won’t be able to understand (even if you are Spanish). Not only is her fruit always fresh and fruitlicious, but every trip is an unexpectedly loud and warm experience that sends you out with a giggle.
FIND IT: Fruteria Manuel Toro Y Maria José (Calle Cristo de San Agustín, 9)
Next stop? The bread queen.
No meal in Spain is complete without “pan“, and Sol Marie is like your motha’ from another bread lova’. She’s filled with that Andalucian warmth and can bake up a whole lot more than just that cardboard pan de pueblo. Call her ahead of time and tell her to save you your favorite pan rustico, or go and pick out the baguette that’s calling to you. She’s got brown bread, rye, whole wheat, extra crusty, gluten free… you name it, Sol Marie will bake it.
FIND IT: Panaderia Sol Marie (Calle San Jerónimo, 3)
And finally, to the meat master.
Hassan is not your average butcher.
I walk into my Morrocan butcher’s shop at 11 am on a Saturday, greeted by loud Moroccan beats and a dancing Hassan, chopping lamb to the rhythm of the music. “Hey Hassan! Good Morning! Thanks for letting me use your tagine pot last night! The lamb tagine came out BANGIN,” I say as I hand him back his authentic Moroccan kitchen pot. Hassan responds, “No worries Casie-girl! Glad it came out good. Here, take a candy!” He opens his wooden box full of homemade fruit chews and has me pick one. “What can I get for you today? A chicken breast chopped up in 3 cm cubes? With some fresh parsley? ”
Yup, the man’s got me down to a science.
This Moroccan carniceria is all Halal meat, which means it’s of the highest quality, the best cut and passes Islamic standards (which also means they don’t sell pork). Not only is their meat the best, but they sell all sorts of Moroccan spices and cool food products. And if you get on Hassan’s good side, he might even give you his family tagine recipe… and let you borrow his cooking pot.
FIND IT: Carnicería Albaicín (Calle Calderería Vieja, 16)
Now, you see why I don’t just go to the Mercadona?
Endless aisles complete with every name brand under the sun, deciding between 17 different kinds of yogurt, playing with your phone in the checkout line, the checkout lady moving on auto-speed “beeping” people outta there until finally, it’s your turn. Then one “paper bag or plastic?” and you’re out on the street without saying a word.
In a world that’s becoming more and more fast-paced and less and less personal, a humane shopping experience is truly a special thing. Granada (and most of Spain) holds on to that centuries-old tradition of small markets, with shop owners who take pride in their products and have personal relations with their clients. You know where your products are coming from, and you trust the people selling them to you. Not to mention, they each bring you a daily dose of smiles to an otherwise mundane errand.
NOTE: All of these shops close for the siesta at 2 PM, and don’t reopen in the afternoon (except for the carnicería, which stays open until 10 pm). So, get there in the AM!