The terrorist attacks in Paris made us want to stick pretty close to home. Our apartment is on one of the best restaurant streets in Madrid, similar to a couple of those targeted in the Paris attacks. At night and all throughout the weekend people spill out from the tiny bars and dining establishments and party in the street. From our fifth-floor apartment we look down upon a river of people.
We went out on Friday night, several hours before the Paris attacks. On Saturday, we stayed in. By Sunday we were starting to feel claustrophobic. This apartment is not big and is our least favorite of the entire trip. The grime in the corners, the chill of the marble floors, and the meager cooking equipment in the kitchen made us long for some freshly cooked food in the brilliant Spanish sunshine.
paella and vermut
Marcus had been reading an article in Saveur magazine on the sweet, red vermouth (vermut, in Spanish) that is so popular in Madrid. The magazine mentioned a little mom-and-pop place in the Mercado de San Fernando not far from our apartment. I started putting on my shoes as he told me about it. ¡Vamanos!
San Fernando is a typical fresh market prevalent in every city in Spain. Madrid has at least one in each barrio. They’re usually not open on Sundays, so I was surprised to hear music blasting out the doors and see the people milling in and out. Inside, in the center of all the closed market stalls, people were dancing to the hip-swaying Latin beat.
Some of the cafés around the periphery of the market were open, serving up tapas and beers, wine and jamón, and other Spanish delicacies. It didn’t take us long to find Bar Barossa. We even recognized Mom and Pop from the magazine photos. We ordered two vermuts and gobbled down the tapa of paella that comes free with every drink order. When we were done, we climbed up to the market’s second floor that overlooks the open, center space. On an ordinary weekday, this space would be full of tables and chairs for shoppers to rest and refresh with a beverage and a snack after a busy day of shopping, but today it was the dance floor.
It was so good to see people out and enjoying themselves. Giving in to our fears and sequestering ourselves indoors can do us more psychological harm than good. Life will go on, but you have to make that first step. One-two-three, cha-cha-cha.