The world’s most famous marketplace for maritime delicacies takes up an entire district of central Tokyo and gives work to 60,000 people. Every day, 2,500 tons of seafood pass through the Tsukiji fish market: exotic delicacies, edible seaweed, and every conceivable type of fish – all for sale. The most famous part of proceedings, though, is the daily tuna auction; at one point, it was drawing so many tourists that spectator numbers are now limited to 120, so you’ll need to be there by 2 a.m. if you want a ticket (the market doesn’t open until somewhat later). In autumn 2018, Tsukiji is scheduled to switch to a new location after over 80 years on its current site.
SHOPPING AT A MARKET IS SOMETHING FOR ALL THE SENSES: IT’S ABOUT FOOD YOU CAN SEE, SMELL, AND TASTE. AND IF YOU’RE TRAVELLING, THERE’S NO BETTER PLACE TO LEARN ABOUT THE COUNTRY AND THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE THERE. HERE’S OUR PICK OF THE BEST.
ASIA'S LARGEST FISH MARKET
Queuing for the tuna auction frm 2 A.M.
Market opens 5 A.M. - 2 P.M.
104-0045 Tkyo-to, Chuo-ku, Tsukiji, Chome-2-1
WHERE IT'S ALL ABOUT FISH
MUARA KUIN MARKET
Daily 5 A.M. – 8 P.M.
Pasar Terapung Lok Baintan
WHERE YOU NEED SEA LEGS TO GO SHOPPING
Just getting to the floating market off of Banjarmasin in the south-east of Borneo is an experience. On an early morning, you board a simple wooden barge and glide past huts and their inhabitants, stood in the river washing their clothes (and kids), out towards a market that has been in operation for centuries. Trade is done from boat to boat, with the main product categories being fruit, vegetables, and – of course – seafood. If you fancy a coffee and some pancakes, though, don’t worry: there are breakfast boats out there in the morning mist...
Permanent stands: Tuesday, Wednesday,
Thurday Farmers' market: Friday, Saturday 8 A.M. – 8 P.M.
Eisenbahnstrasse 42/43, Berlin
WHERE YOU CAN WATCH CRAFTSMEN AT WORK
Around twelve years back, this old market hall in Berlin’s hip Kreuzberg area was going to be turned into a supermarket, but thanks to local residents, those plans are now firmly off the table. Instead, Markethalle Neun is a place where you can shop differently, with traceability, ecology and craftsmanship taking centre stage. There’s the open bakery where you can watch every stage of the bread-making process, the artisan butchers, and the pasta workshop; then there’s the micro-brewery and the tofu atelier. It’s hard to think of a better place to watch professionals at work or to enjoy the slow-food delicacies brought in by various artisans and greengrocers. What’s more, the atmosphere is laid back and you can sample pretty much everything.
Daily 6 A.M. – 6 P.M.
North of the Santo-Domingo church, San Cristobal de las Casas
WHERE YOU GO HIGH TO GO HOT
If you want to get a thorough introduction to all the basic foodstuffs of native Mexican cuisine, there’s only one way to do it: going up to an altitude of 2,100 metres to San Cristóbal de las Casas, a historically important colonial city in whose streets smallholders from the surrounding hills come to sell everything a Mexican cook could need. “Cook” is the operative word: the market is not at all geared up for tourists – and that’s what makes it so interesting. Various types of exotic flowers, fruits, and vegetables vie for attention next to colourful beans, explosive chillies, and bleeding carcasses. Then, for the not-so-faint of heart, there are the edible insects, served with lime and salt.
UNION SQUARE GREENMARKET
Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays 8 A.M. – 6 P.M.
E 17TH ST & UNION SQUARE W, NY
WHERE URBAN CROPS MEET CELEBRITIES
Back in the 1970s, the first food producers from around New York started to come into this section of lower Manhattan to sell their produce. Now, 140 farmers and artisans set up their stalls several times a week in the middle of the metropolis to supply New Yorkers with fresh greens, cheese, bread, fish, eggs, sausage and wine, as well as jams and preserves. Products at what is called the ‘Greenmarket’ generally rank high in the sustainability stakes, and it now features crops from urban gardening projects and honey made by New York beekeepers. Indeed, the quality on offer is so high that you might even meet the odd film star or celebrity chef...
1st December to March, Tuesday mornings
38 Place de La Bascule, Lalbenque
WHERE THE TOP TRUFFLE MERCHANTS GATHER
From December to March, Michelin star-holding chefs and gourmets general stop looking at their mileage, going quite out of their way to buy a luxury ingredient like no other: every Tuesday morning in winter, black Quercy truffles are sold in Lalbenque. One of the most aromatic of its kind, the Quercy truffle is hunted with dogs and pigs in the surrounding countryside; in town, its pungent aroma and an almost conspiratorial atmosphere make for a very special market. Here and there, you’ll see someone sniffing, scraping, and then whispering. After negotiations, money changes hands – real money. Truffles go for between 300 and 700 euros per kilo.