Andrew’s Top 15 Food Markets Around the World
Our world traveler and host of Bizarre Foods America, Andrew Zimmern, has traveled around the world and back again many times over. During his travels, whether in China or San Diego, he’s visited some large, small and very good food markets. We asked Andrew for his top list of markets around the world and he provided 15 -- happy shopping!
This Art Deco-style market building from the 1930s houses 2 floors of artisanal delicatessens, cheese shops, chocolatiers and florists alongside dozens of fresh produce stands. My favorite is La Fromagerie Atwater, the cheese shop of your dreams with more than 750 varieties.
Noryangjin Fish Market
Flickr user tongeron91
This giant indoor fish market is the largest and oldest market in Seoul. It has more than 700 stalls and a mind-boggling array of exotic species -- stingrays, ribbonfish, sea squirts, they have it all. The best part is you can buy a fish, have it fileted in front of you and cooked at a nearby restaurant.
Flickr user ayustety
Walking through Paris’ largest open-air market is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Beyond the fresh produce, wheels of fresh cheese and mounds of cured sausage, I must seek out the stands serving roasted chicken, which are spit turned and served with carrots and potatoes, and the Middle Eastern bread makers.
Mercado de Abastos
Flickr user Ulises Estrada
Oaxaca’s central market is a food lover’s dream, where the air smells of fresh cilantro, chiles and the best tamales you’ll ever eat. For only a couple pesos, you must try the handmade tamales and tlayudas served street-side by Zapotec grandmas.
Djemaa el Fna
Located in the city’s main square, Djemaa el Fna is a lively cultural spectacle. I love the cumin-spiked, pit-roasted whole lamb, and with a glass of mint tea, it’s definitely in my top 5 favorite market meals. Plus, the people watching can’t be beat -- acrobats, Dutch hippies, Berber musicians, German tour groups, herbalists, Japanese sightseers, snake charmers, American trustafarians, hawkers, hustlers, grifters and conmen are all resident entertainers.
Flickr user Mark Fischer
This is a working market for wholesalers, and although it has a gritty reputation, a trip here is an adventure worth having. Make a pit stop at one of the stalls hawking Cantonese egg noodle soup, served with wontons, greens and roast pork.
Barcelona’s main market is one Europe’s most famous and oldest food markets. You could easily kill an afternoon perusing the aisles of fresh seafood, produce, Iberico ham, dried peppers and spices. Work up an appetite and end your visit at Bar Pinotxo, a tiny tapas bar, for pil-pil razor clams.
This is a locavore’s heaven, with hundreds of farmers, vintners, foragers and grab-and-go food stands. Some of the city’s most iconic restaurants started as small stands at this market, including Pine State Biscuits, known for their fried chicken, gravy, egg and biscuit sandwich.
Flickr user dainec
On the Capitol building steps, this farmers’ market is the largest producer-only farmers’ market in the country -- that means everything for sale is grown or raised by the person behind the table. In addition to great fruits and vegetables, this market has an abundance of one-of-a-kind Wisconsin-style cheese.
The shining stars of this great city farmers’ market are the plethora of fresh Gulf Coast seafood, crayfish, bayou rice, alongside award-winning pies, hot tamales and artisan cheese.
Flickr user Aaron Fulkerson
It’s only natural that Southern California is home to one of the country’s biggest and best farmers’ markets, with its ideal climate and long growing season. Hillcrest is the king of San Diego’s market scene, with more than 100 official vendors selling flowers, produce, seafood and prepared foods, and about 100 more unofficial vendors. Head to Poppa’s Fresh Fish Company stand for sea urchin ceviche, served in its own shell -- it’s incredible.
Located in Honolulu’s Chinatown (reportedly one of the oldest in the country), the Oahu Market is a bustling place on Saturday mornings. I always load up at the old fish stalls selling poke and other fish salads, fresh and pickled fish, or my favorite, the dried aku, which is similar to a small jack tuna . Ask for it at any fish vendor and they will sell you a few sticks, it’s the best fish ‘jerky’ on the planet.
St. Paul’s Hmong Market is the country’s best little-known ethnic market, with countless fruit and vegetable stalls and rustic, insanely delicious Southeast Asian dishes in the food court. It’s my top lunch spot in the Twin Cities, serving everything from Hmong sausage to made-to-order papaya salads and hearty pho.
Located in the historic Ferry Building (circa 1898) at the end of Market Street, this marketplace is home to a Tuesday and Saturday farmers’ market, as well as a host of great spots to grab a bite. I love Charles Phan’s acclaimed Slanted Door for the nouvelle Vietnamese cuisine.
Seattle’s most iconic market is justly famous, with loads of fresh produce, Pacific seafood and lots of tasty food stands. Tucked into one of the least traveled corners of the market, I found Oriental Mart Kitchenette, where 3 generations of Filipino women are making salmon tip soup, a fantastic combination of salmon collars, herbs and sour lime.
Qing Yang District Wet Markets
In the Sichuan capital you will find some of the best food on the planet, so naturally the city has fantastic markets. The Qingyang district is filled with wet markets, where vendors sell everything from frogs and pig brains to bean pasta and tofu. After a stroll through these streets, head to a local restaurant to try the region’s signature hot pot.
View Andrew's photos from the Pennsylvania episode of Bizarre Foods.