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Five food markets to visit

For a true insight into the culture of a city, here’s a tip: visit its food market. It tells you more about its traditions, work ethic, kindness and food culture than guide books ever could.

From early morning, markets of all shapes and sizes buzz with activity, not only because of market traders keen to do an honest day’s work, but from locals on the lookout for the best ingredients at the most reasonable prices.

The Flexicover team has picked out five unmissable markets that not only portray the unique nature of their location but are also great places to interact with the locals and indulge in a bit of people watching too. Just make sure you pack your bartering skills…

Granville Island Public Market, Canada

Vancouver's cultural offerings are plentiful, but Granville Island Public Market is the jewel in its gastronomic crown. A mini-city dedicated to local produce, its 12 million annual visitors can spend a full day enjoying its lively atmosphere and browsing artisan products like baked goods, hot food and the freshest fruit and veg in Canada. The food stalls, which rotate on a weekly basis, aren't the only attraction. There's a Kids Only Market and tours of the Granville Island Brewing microbrewery - for adults only, of course.

Mercato Albinelli, Italy

The hustle and bustle of a market is nowhere better seen than in Italy, the home of simple food done well. Given the importance of excellent quality ingredients expect to see some of the world’s finest on sale at Mercato Albinelli in Modena, from juicy red tomatoes to bundles of basil that you’ll smell before you see. Of course, there’s a huge selection of locally-produced balsamic vinegar on offer too which make perfect gifts – especially if any Prosecco bottles intended as presents don’t manage to make it back to the UK!

Egyptian Bazaar, Turkey

Back in the days of yore, the Ottoman Empire built a market for spices with the taxes levied on Egyptian products. With an enviable location outside Istanbul’s main mosque, the bazaar stuck, and to this day you can buy all manner of spices, herbs, sweets and ingredients from this small warren-like market. It’s a feast for all the senses; not only can visitors take in the vibrant colours and wafts of mint, turmeric, saffron and cumin, but many spice merchants also allow sampling – necessary as many here cater to the tourist market. So note where the locals go and follow suit; then ask for a little taste to make sure the quality is spot-on. That way, you’ll be able to recreate delicious kebabs and baklava at home.

Dong Xuan Market, Vietnam

From the early hours of the morning, Don Xuan in Hanoi is packed with locals and street vendors shopping for the freshest of produce. Unlike many other countries, the Vietnamese make it a point of buying their ingredients daily. Back in 1889 when the market began, this was down to a lack of refrigeration in the country, but more recently its cuisine has developed to rely on fresh herbs – and what a difference it makes. However the offering at this expansive market is not just fragrant herbs and tempting vegetables. Expect to have your stomach turned as you watch locals crush baby crabs (shells and all) to make a paste, fill a sack full of pig’s ears and de-shell turtles on the side of the streets. It’s an experience, that’s for sure.

Tsukiji Fish Market, Japan

Fish auctions might not be the most obvious way to spend a holiday, but it’s a sight to behold at Tsukji Fish Market in Tokyo, the largest of its kind in the world, and a fascinating reflection of Japan’s sushi culture. The tuna auction is world-famous; taking place at dawn, rows of huge fishes are sold off in an indecipherable tradition that’s a wonder to observe. Altogether, 400 types of seafood are found in its chilly walls – you’ll see all manner of weird and wonderful sea life being skinned and gutted into chunks, sliced as steaks or washed for packaging. Be sure to pay a visit sooner rather than later though as this centrally-located market, in place since 1935, is due to move further away to make room for Japan’s hosting of the 2020 Olympics, much to the disappointment of the fishing community.

However you like to immerse yourself in the culture of a place it’s good to know that with a Flexicover policy in place you’ll have the peace of mind that we’re committed to providing the highest level of protection to ensure that you are safe and secure, 24 hours a day when away.