As we returned to Portugal from eleven weeks gone and strolled along the boardwalk with Ukrainian flag flying boldly above, we were thankful for all we have. Generally good health and an amazing opportunity to live part time in Europe in a beautiful place. And so it was that we returned to the Cascais Mercado da Vila.
European farmer’s markets put the vast majority of American ones to shame, though I should say that there could very well be one of which we are unaware and welcome you, dear reader, to point out any flaws in my logic and statement. The one in Cascais, is superb. Encircled by a ring of restaurants, inside the market halls are stalls of fresh vegetables and fruits with flowers at one end and cheese and bread along the far side. At the opposite end from the flowers is the fish market with all of its lovely smells and sights and behind the bread, the butchers.
This was a regular weekly routine for us when we first arrived in December 2019. Every Saturday we’d roll our little wheely cart Melissa made me buy down to the Mercado and stock up on fruits, veggies and bread. Towards the end of our two month stay that winter we graduated to fish and meat one day and got a ridiculously large quantity of shrimp (no Portuguese issue here, this miscommunication was solely a metric one) and what we thought was a mix of beef, pork and chicken for skewers which turned out to be all different cuts of pork (we can blame the poor Portuguese for that one). It was a routine we loved, as we wrote about here.
Alas, when we returned, we skipped the market, not really sure the we were ready for during-pandemic all cash and grab experiences, and mostly shopped online at The Auchan (think Super Target) or used our local mini mercado, the Meu Super (think convenience store sized with full wine section, butcher, bakery and groceries. No slushies and ever-revolving unappealing looking hot dogs here, this convenience store market is the real deal). That was then, this is now. While covid appears here to stay in some form for the foreseeable, back we went to the Mercado for our first return since January 2020. It was as we remembered. A little chaotic, practice helps, improved Portuguese helps even more with a lot to love. It’s on our list of places to take people when they visit. So saddle up visitors, you’re in for an authentic ride.