Travel Reflections: Fun Grocery Shopping

I never thought that grocery shopping could be described as “fun.”

However, with the Saturday morning chorus of cheery “hola buenas,” whirring meat cutters and the tinkling of exchanging coins ringing through the Central Market of Valencia, Spain, how could it not be?

Wandering down the countless rows of every kind of fresh foodstuff imaginable, flaky chocolate croissant in hand, I was enthralled by how much there was to see, to hear, to smell, to taste.

Passing by the stands was like passing through a completely different spectrum on the color wheel. For a moment, my eyes took in the reds and fleshy oranges of pig legs dangling from the various stalls; a moment later, I got an eyeful of the zippy yellow of lemons and the muted greens of dried kiwi. It was a miracle that my eyes were able to adjust to take in the soft greys and tans of the mountains of cashews, peanuts, almonds.

Passing by each stand was like passing through completely separate kitchens. For a split second, the sweet smell of strawberries intermingled with the raw smell of fish until — bam! — I was enveloped in the more odorous fish-y realm, staring straight into the bulging eyes of the grey, scaly monstrosity with a gaping mouth. Finally, I entered the more pleasing realm of the dried fruit stand — a mouth-watering aroma of dried kiwi, pineapple and oranges infusing my nostrils.

But when stepping back to look at the bigger picture, each stand somehow seemed to fit in the overall grand scheme of the market. Each stand, with its distinct sights, sounds, smells and tastes, made up one cog of the great Valencia Market; each stand represented one part of the harmony in the melodious choir.

And that, my friend, is how grocery shopping can be fun.

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