I have a soft spot for open air markets and the Mercado da Baixa at Praça da Figueira in Lisbon, Portugal did not disappoint.
Filled with artisanal stands, this market is a travelers delight with produce, food, drinks, and a few handicraft items. Communal tables are packed with friends, families, and locals taking a break from their workday. A recording by the contemporary fadoista, Mariza, plays in the background.
The star of this market is the sausage. Cured, grilled, fried, or sliced, it’s there in many forms to eat onsite or take away for a later time. My favorite stand prepared sandwiches with sliced cured ham, cheese, and crusty bread. The cheese not only adds a depth flavor to the sandwich, it was also mesmerizing watching the process of it being added to the sandwich.
Imagine an entire wheel of cheese about 6 inches wide and 4 inches thick sliced open at the top with a large chef’s knife. The top of the wheel is removed like a cap coming off of a container. Then the cheese inside of the wheel is scooped out with a large wooden spoon and slathered thickly on the crusty bread.
The tang of the cheese combines perfectly with the saltiness of the ham and the crunch of the crusty bread. Add a couple of glasses of cold, sweet sangria or freshly squeezed juice and you have the perfect Portuguese meal.
Dorothy Hoffman is the creator of the travel blog, Squirts and Seniors. She is a Gen X-er who writes about their experiences traveling at home and abroad with her young son and aging parents.