One morning in Spain I woke up and decided to go to the famous fish market in Jerez. You are probably wondering why one would choose to spend the day wondering around a fishy fish market. Well, when you are traveling alone and on vacation you can do whatever you want! So I hopped in the car and took the short 30-minute ride inland. Jerez at first glance seems like a typical Andalucían city but I know it has to be a city of hidden treasures. I parked and started walking around and immediately knew that I would love to revisit and dig deeper. The vibe was very appealing to me. It was the unique European blend of tasteful modern and exceptionally historical.
Feeling right at home I decided I should pay my respects to the City of Jerez by honoring its history of Sherry production. So I sat down and enjoyed a perfect chilled glass of Tio Pepe Sherry.
Sherry??? No, not cooking sherry, classic Andalucía Sherry from where else but right here in Jerez. I prefer the dry styles made from a white Palomino grape grown in the areas right outside of the city. Along the highways, you will see towering Tio Pepe signs that constantly remind you that you are in Sherry country. Now as an underground member of The Sherry Revolution, I have a new appreciation of this afternoon delight.
Check out the Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/TheSherryRevolution
Now with an adequate amount of sherry in the tank I headed over to the fish market. The sound and the smell was just what I had been looking for.
The atmosphere is heavy with complex bantering and selling techniques…fishwives and fishmongers are in subtle yet constant competition to sell there very finest to knowledgeable demanding regulars. They meticulously straightening and organizing the fish on display with such attention. The handwritten signage, bright lights, and unbelievably organized displays make for a pleasant fish shopping experience. The bottom line is this room is full of an impressive number of seafood connoisseurs.
I followed as one very finicky older woman, who was clearly on a mission to buy the best possible boquerón’s (anchovies). She made her way through bantering back and forth with several fishmongers. Then after about 10 minutes of excessive pointing, hand waving and head shaking with six or seven different vendors she settled on these from this man….
I couldn’t tell you why she picked these, but she was happy about her purchase. Every vendor has a different approach; some have a hard edge assertiveness and some go with the sweet amicable loveable approach, all while displaying unbelievable, rather intimidating, knife sharpening and filleting techniques with speed and precision. But every time I asked to take his or her picture I soon found out how welcoming everyone was. These are people who are clearly proud of their history and what they do.
This of course made me wonder, “Why don’t we have something like this where I live?” Here in the south in Charleston, SC it seems possible; we have southern hospitality, plenty of local seafood and an abundance of history. If we were to rewind about a hundred years ago I would imagine that the scene in our downtown market would have been quite similar. But in here in Jerez, Spain this was happening today… More to come