Cagliari – Quartiere San Benedetto – Mercato San Benedetto
Quartiere San Benedetto has a famous market called the Mercato San Benedetto www.mercatosanbenedetto.it which is the largest covered market in Italy and one of the biggest in Europe. There are 300 stalls in all.
I got up at 6am to go and have a look one morning. It’s open from 07.00 to 14.00 every day (except Sunday when it closes) so you have to arrive early to catch the action.
The fruit and veg is on the upper level.
Along with butchers…
and cheese mongers. I meant to ask them for Casu Marzu and Su Callu (see my Extreme Cheese post) but was too entranced by the market to remember.
And of course there are the lumache (snail) stalls.
I counted three varieties in all. The smallest are Tappadas (also called Monachelle).
Sizigorrus I think are also grey with a striped shell but larger.
Monzette are bigger and browner. Snails cover their cavity with a white membrane when they are in hibernation.
Sardinia is more famous for its land ingredients rather than fish but the whole of the lower level of the market is dedicated to seafood.
Another thing I forgot to ask for was bottarga, made in Sardinia with the dried roe of flathead mullet (as opposed to tuna in Sicily). It’s a local specialty that is served with bread or grated onto pasta.
When I got home to Sheffield I did manage to get some Sardinian Bottarga di Muggine (pictured above) from my friend’s deli for about £17.50 ($23) for 100g, which was much more expensive than in Cagliari I’m sure.
All the stall holders were happy to let me take photos when I asked. One chap even put me behind his stall so he could take a photo of me pretending to be a fishmonger! Unfortunately I think I made a better fishmonger than he did a photographer!
There was even a stall for sea anemones (anemoni di mare or orziadas) but the photo didn’t come out very well sorry.
I’ve only seen them being eaten deep-fried in Andalucia in Spain before. They do the same here apparently but also have them on pizza and with spaghetti and bottarga. I’ve never seen them on a restaurant menu though.