While the meat and seafood sections of the Athens Central Market were spectacular, I was a bit mystified as to why I couldn’t find the produce section as easily. It was definitely not the main feature of this market, and that is a bit unusual when compared to other large city markets. I later learned that there are other produce markets and many of them sprout in particular neighborhoods on particular days, so it wasn’t such a big deal at the Central market. After searching for fruits and veggies and not finding it, I actually stopped two Filipinas that were obviously doing their marketing and asked them for directions… they pointed to an area OUTSIDE the covered markets near a parking lot and there were some 20-30 stalls selling fruit, vegetables and other market goodies. The volume of goods may have been relatively small, but the quality and prices were stunningly impressive! Up top, a selection of yellow and green zucchini/squash, large long eggplants and the most incredible ripe tomatoes I have seen since we were last in Italy… At 49 cents per kilo for the tomatoes (roughly PHP30 kilo), I was truly amazed. Superb quality, at some 1/3rd the price in Manila!
The fruit section had stunning peaches, apricots, green gage plums, luscious strawberries and both red and golden cherries… At prices ranging from 1 to 2 dollars per kilo, we went a little gaga, if you know what I mean. Mrs. MM and The Kid bough a KILO of strawberries for PHP70 and then later got some greek yogurt so we could have merienda at the hotel. For the three of us, we spent about PHP50 each and had more than enough berries and yoghurt!
Besides the berries and stone fruit, there was a pretty good selection of oranges, which I think were a little out of season, but tasted great nevertheless.
Vendors used metal scoops to get berries, apricots and cherries and dump them into paper bags for weighing. No handling with kid gloves, this type of selling went through serious amounts of fruit, with cases being opened up every few minutes. If I could have brought home an unlimited amount of fruit, I would have had crates of everything packed up and loaded onto the plane!
The number of vegetable vendors was surprisingly slim, but the produce was beautiful and incredibly fresh. Bunches of dill for tatziki, romaine for salads, cucumbers, parsley, celery and other bunches of herbs and greens made me wish we had access to a kitchen.
The selection of olives was unbelievable! I don’t think I have even tried 1/10th of all the types of olives on offer! And the prices? Cheap as ever for such wonderful quality.
Dried fruits and nuts? Ayayay… FANTASTIC!
Such intense flavor, plump freshly dried fruit, nuts still in their shells and already shelled…
Huge tins of sardines in salt.
Enough spices to bury a human in…
And cheesemongers with everything from drier and sharper sheep’s milk cheeses to the most silky yoghurt… This is a market you should not miss!