Warning: reading the following material may induce involuntary drooling and a voracious appetite.
Bienvenidos a Madrid, the city of bite-sized foodie masterpieces, also known as tapas. Traditionally served as a free snack to accompany drinks, tapas can also be ordered a la carte, and can be found at almost every bar and restaurant in Madrid. Typical tapas include: bocadillos, simple sandwiches filled with various meats, cheeses, or eggs; croquetas, a breaded and fried roll filled with ham or chicken; tortilla española, an omelette filled with potatoes and onions; and platters of famous Spanish cured meats like jamón serrano or jamón iberico.
The idea of tiny snacking has taken storm and reached the U.S. in hotspots from New York City to San Francisco. In Madrid, one of the main tourist hotspots to have a tapas frenzy is at Mercado de San Miguel, a green-house style building offering these small bites of all varieties, ranging from 1 to 8 euros each.
NX20 | 1/20 | f/3.5 | ISO 800 | 18mm Mercado San Miguel
My favorite booth is the one that’s chock full of all kinds of stuffed olives, which at 1.5 euro each can be a dangerous spot to stuff your face since it’s hard to stop at just one. Olives stuffed with clams, mussels, ham, cheese, tuna, pearled onions, and sundried tomatoes, each present a burst of mouthwatering flavors in your mouth.
I wanted to share the vibrant food that Madrid has to offer by photographing some of the mercado’s best mini meals with my NX20. However I must admit it was a hard task to take on, since it required me to resist shoving every morsel in my mouth before getting a snapshot! The NX20’s macro mode became my new best friend as I zoomed in to get up close and personal with the many ingredients that Spain features on every plate. Looking back on the photos, I can almost smell the spices that wafted through the air that day, and I was glad my camera could capture the food’s vibrant colors which match Madrid’s own vivacity.
Sausages, seafood, and a whole corner filled with fresh desserts are all available at the mercado, which fills up from the afternoon until midnight with locals and tourists alike. Somewhat of a local meeting point, you’ll run across casual lunch goers to full-on pre-partiers satisfying their penchant for cheap (but delicious) wine and rich food.
Tapas are a necessary part of Spanish life, and it’s understandable since by the end of your adventure in places like Mercado de San Miguel, you feel like you’ve had 6 meals for the price of one. Whether you want to try uni relleno, pig’s feet, or just a simple cheese tart with jam, it’s the perfect locale to test the bounds of your palate.