There’s something deeply grounding about visiting food markets on grand foreign travels. It’s one thing to see a place through museums and monuments, and quite another to see it at pedestrian level. Markets are not just a perfect way to get food, but also to get an insight into how locals shop, haggle, relate and, naturally, how they eat. Food markets are on every corner of the world, but these are simply some of the best.
Chadni Chowk, New Delhi, India
Chandni Chowk is the main road of Delhi’s old city, but locals often refer to the area surrounding it by that name. Enveloped by a maze of winding and narrow laneways, Chandni Chowk contains a number of small and not-so-small self-contained markets within its environs.
Chief amongst them would have to be the Khari Baoli, or the spice market, a long street where dozens upon dozens of spice vendors ply their wares. Here you’ll find fresh turmeric root, puffed lotus seeds, Kashmiri saffron and Keralan cardamom, amongst more. Nearby is the Khoya Mandi, or milk market, where you can trawl 70-odd vendors to find the best in just two products: paneer (cottage cheese) or khoya (a solidified milk product).
Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne
It’s a Saturday morning ritual for inner-city urbanites and suburban fringe dwellers alike: the trek to Queen Victoria Market (or just Vic Market), string bags in hand, in search of organic vegetables, a free-range duck or simply a brunch of steaming hot churros.
For Melburnians with a weekend dinner party in the works, the Vic Market is their go-to destination. With a vast range of produce and ready-made snacks, from Turkish boreks and fresh Chinese cabbage to German wurst and crocodile steaks, no place in Melbourne better exemplifies the city’s cultural melting-pot nature.
Santa Monica Farmers’ Market, LA, USA
Los Angelenos might prefer to drive than walk two blocks, but they’re fiercely passionate about organic, free-range and local produce. In the popular beachside suburb of Santa Monica, a Wednesday farmers’ market started almost 30 years ago and immediately proved a major success – so much so that 10 years later, the market also opened on Saturdays.
Now, it takes over streets close to the beach, with dozens of vendors flogging food products including heirloom tomatoes, freshly caught seafood, nettles, potted herbs, bison meat, jams, and a wide range of fresh vegetables.
Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo, Japan
With the Japanese love for the freshest fish possible, it comes as no surprise that Tokyo hosts the world’s largest wholesale fish and seafood market. The market handles hundreds of varieties of seafood – from seaweed and caviar to tuna and potentially poisonous fugu.
Tsujiki also has the reputation of being the most expensive fish market in the world, so visit to see some of the biggest and best-quality fish specimens you might ever come across. Afterwards, try out one of the many 24-hour sushi restaurants outside the market. The sushi doesn’t come cheap, but you can rest assured it’s the best that money can buy.