I admit it: I have an OCD. Wherever in the world I am, I MUST visit a market, or at worst, food hall. I even like foreign supermarkets. And UK supermarkets. I can wax lyrical about my fascination with the way supermarkets adapt their merchandise to the ethnic mix of the local community. But I digress. Here is yet another Epicurienne take on a market. For this episode of ‘Market OCD’ we’ll travel to Funchal on the Atlantic island of Madeira.
Monsieur and I were fresh off the plane from Lisbon when we found Funchal Market. It was lunchtime so activity, which had started at daybreak, was starting to wind down, but the fish market was still quite busy. Most of the marble preparation areas were loaded up with long, black, headless fish that looked a bit like eels. I later found out their name: scabbard fish.
Known as Peixe Espada Preta, this is a popular fish in Portugal, known for a mild flavour which allows it to be prepared in hundreds of different ways. Their heads are the stuff of horror films, though:
On a different counter sat limpets. I’ve never eaten them before but they’re supposed to be delicious. Limpets make me nostalgic for childhood visits to the beach, sticking our fingers into anemones in rock pools, teasing hermit crabs and trying to pull limpets off the rocks. Now I just want to eat one!
The tuna counter was a reminder of how big tuna can grow. This is just a small part of one:
The tuna man’s biceps must get their work out from hulking huge hunks of tuna about and carving them with a knife that looks disturbingly like a machete.
Elsewhere, the scabbard fish are stripped down.
The sardine man removes tiny sardine entrails as he waits for a customer.
A buyer gets tips on how to prepare salt cod.
perhaps with some of the cod man’s homemade herb-alicious marinade?
Nothing this vendor says or does can make his buyers crack a smile. Poor chap. They look like hard work.
Before we leave, I’m tempted to weigh myself on the fish scales (not the shiny-on-the-skin fishy variety):
but Monsieur says “No.”
So we go next door to the fresh produce market, instead, and my market OCD is cured, for today.