Sunday, September 29, 2013


Entrance to the market in the plaza of the "Setas."
This week, more from my trip to Sevilla, a visit to a mercado de abastos, a daily food market. Just a few steps from the hotel where I was staying was the Plaza de la Encarnación and there I discovered an astonishing structure, Metropol-Parasol, popularly known as Las Setas de la Encarnación, the “mushrooms” of Encarnación Plaza. Tucked under the mushroom caps is a modern market.

Designed by German architect, Jürgen Mayer, Metropol-Parasol was completed in 2011. The six parasols, or “toadstools,” are made of wood with poured concrete columns. The highest point soars more than 26 meters. Below street level—where there should have been a parking garage—is an archeological museum. That’s because, when excavating for the garage, important Roman ruins were discovered. Some of the mosaics can be seen through a glass floor in the plaza.

The market opens at street level. Above is an open air plaza mayor and at the very top, a skywalk, with amazing views of Sevilla.

I was still a train ride away from home, on a hot afternoon, so my market shopping was, unfortunately, limited. Here are some of what I found in the Las Setas market.

Fresh produce.
A great season for fresh produce--end of summer means great tomatoes, melons and grapes but approach of fall brings new cabbages, carrots, beets and greens. In Sevilla, I saw purple broccoli, a vegetable I have never tried.

Carne de toro de lidia is beef from bulls that have been killed in the bullfight. This may be the last of it, as the bullfighting season in the Maestranza bullring has about finished until spring festivals. You can still make Sevilla's famous rabo de toro, braised bull's tail, by substituting ordinary oxtail.(A recipe is here.)

Great selection of fresh fish and shellfish.

Melva--frigate mackerel.
The selection of fish and shellfish in Sevilla markets is different from what I find on the Costa del Sol. Here, two standouts are melva, frigate mackerel, a relative to tuna, and corvina, a large fish somewhat like sea bass. My seafood Guide to the Seafood of Spain and Portugal, by Alan Davidson (Santana Books) translates this as "meagre," but I think I've seen it called "corvina" in English. The meaty frigate mackerel appeared en escabeche in Sevilla tapa bars.


While I couldn't buy fresh food to bring home, I loaded up on regañás, a crispy cracker famous in Sevilla. (A recipe for homemade regañás is here.)

Fresh bread plus breadsticks and a variety of crackers.

Lamb in parts.

This butcher had everything lamb. From the left, brains, liver, tongues, tripe, and at the back, lambs's heads and sweetbreads. After savoring sweetbreads at a Sevilla tapas bar, I really wanted to buy some. The butcher also was selling two legs of baby lamb for €14.

Snails, on the run.
 "We're outta here, guys." These snails high-tail it out of a bin, heading for the garlic. These are called cabrillas. Cooked in a spicy sauce, they are favorite tapa bar fare in Sevilla.

Farm-raised rabbits, ready for skinning.

Olives, capers and pickles.

Sevilla is famous for its olives, manzanilla and gordal, prepared with many different seasonings. Also, capers and, pictured in the center above, caper berries.

Market reflections.

Chumbo vendor peeling fruit on the market plaza.          


  1. Terrific photos from the market. They really "say" a lot...
    Very impressed with the lamb stand & those snails ...
    A good one , J !

    1. Charlotte: Thanks! Must be about time to cook some snails.

  2. Shawn, my Sevilla tapas guide, posted a photo of the Café-Bar Encarnación inside this market--great stop for breakfast or tapas-- at

  3. Hello Janet,
    I ran across your page while searching the internet for Spanish vegetables.It was so nice to read all about you and your adventures.

    We have recently moved to Spain from Alberta, Canada. I was wanting to make a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Do you know if I can get brussel sprouts and cranberries in Spain?

    1. Anony from Canada: Brussels sprouts (coles de bruselas) are widely available. Fresh cranberries, no. Some specialty shops have dried cranberries. I get visitors from North America to bring fresh cranberries, keep them in the freezer for holiday meals.

    2. Thank you Janet. I appreciate you taking the time to answer my question. I will start looking for the brussel sprouts. Maybe I can make some cranberry sauce with dried cranberries.

  4. Sounds like a fun trip, Janet. Two baby lamb legs for 14 euros - holy cow!!!