Il Mercato di Porta Palazzo, Torino
January 17, 2012
The Porta Palazzo Market is one of the largest and oldest in Europe. It was decreed to be the only produce market in Turin in 1835. The open air section covers the large Piazza della Repubblica just outside the historic center of the city. Around it are enclosed buildings for butchers, bakers etc. Linda and I went in the morning of October 6, 2011, starting our visit to the city.
This structure, the “Clock Market”, was built in 1916; the interior was modernized in 1999.
We started our walk here. The number and variety of butchers inside is very impressive. There are refrigerated lockers behind each butcher stand and refrigerated display cases in front.
You can see some prepared rolled roasts.
Some of these cuts are marinated or skewered.
Kid, young goat, is on sale today. A whole suckling pig is ready.
Precooked tripe, turkey necks and drumsticks.
Here the preparations a little fancier.
The horsemeat butcher is starting to cut up a new carcass, which he took from the locker behind it.
There is a large variety of sausages; cheese is sold alongside here.
The wild boar’s head signals that sausages made from it are a specialty of this stand.
There is a big selection of fresh breads at the stands of the bakers.
“Bread and Pizza.” This stand has a wide range.
Turin, in the Piemonte with Alpine pastures on two sides, benefits from many local cheeses.
One has a wide choice of fresh pastas.
In front: spicy olives, pitted Greek olives and olives “alla calce,” or cured with lye and flavored with fennel.
Many prepared items.
Behind the Clock Market is il mercato dei contadini, which is reserved for regional farmers selling their own products. The lacey structure was also built in 1916 and has a nice period feeling. There is a calm, elegant bourgeois feeling about the area, a big contrast to the raucous, huge open resellers market in the main square. I assume that the prices are a bit higher here, but the ambience and quality of the products makes that worthwhile. As it was early October, both summer and autumn vegetables were in season. This mercato was a real treat.
These broccolis have a ‘do not touch” sign on them.
Small eggplants, fennel and sweet peppers.
I think these are a variety of green tomato; zinnias and zucchini flowers.
Cauliflower and zucchini flowers.
Meaty round eggplants.
These “beefheart” tomatoes are not the prettiest, but they are among the best tasting.
The season of zucca, or large squash had started. The displays were picturesque.
This one was alongside trumpet zucchini, the best kind.
The egg farmer offered several types. White eggs are unusual in Europe, which can be a surprise to Americans. In the back right are fresh quail eggs.
We went back through the Clock Market, out the front door, crossed the tram tracks and were in the immense, vibrant main market. Produce here was fresh and good quality, or it would not sell, but the sellers were not normally the producers. Price competition was important. Offers were constantly being shouted at us as we wandered.
In the top left you can just see the dome of the cathedral, which was next on our walking itinerary.
The farmer’s market logically had no mushrooms, which are important in this season, but they were for sale in the main market.
Porcini were in season. This price is half what I paid at the Ventimiglia market on the way home two days later and a quarter of what we pay for cèpes in France. By offering them sliced, one can see that there are no worms.
These are “vanilla persimmons,” a variety which is not mushy like most when ripe, but crisp, like an apple.
Spiny artichokes, which one slices thinly and eats uncooked, are important in Liguria, but their season is in the winter and spring. I wonder from where these came.
Grapes, grapes, grapes.
We needed to be on our way toward the cathedral, with the holy shroud, and other sights in the center of Turin so we left via the Galleria Umberto I, skipping the building with twenty fish stalls on the other side of the square. Turin is famous for these enclosed shopping arcades and its many streets lined with tall open arcades, a sensible way to deal with rain, snow and summer sun.