Ahhhh, the Rastro. One of Europe’s largest and oldest
flea markets. And a Sunday morning tradition in Madrid. Where tourists and locals alike
come to buy everything from paella pans to piggy banks, from headgear to underwear. But here’s the
rub… the Rastro isn’t about shopping. Most Madrilenians don’t come here to buy, they
come to eat and drink. And that’s what we’re going to do. Don’t get me wrong, you’ve got
to work up an appetite before you overindulge. And browsing is part of the Rastro experience.
But you want to get off the main drag, which is full of the kind of crap you can get anywhere. So explore the surrounding streets and squares, they’re jammed with a fascinating smorgasbord of over-priced antiques of dubious provenance, junk and a wad of Franco period literature. But I’m getting hungry so the first stop is El Capricho Extremeno. The queue snakes out the door and inside it’s
part sweatshop, part gourmet deli. These guys do a wide array of tostas. Just don’t get
tongue tied at the moment of ordering. There’s nothing like the smell of jamón in the morning.
Smells like Spanish breakfast. I’ve got olive oil running down my chin. Once you start to eat you’ve just gotta keep going. Browsing’s over. Next stop: Santurce. These guys have been serving fresh, grilled sardines since the 1970s. Cheap, rustic and with the kind
of bolshy, bully boy and brutally honest service that I’ve come to love in Madrid. Cheers! And what do you do with the bones? On the floor, like everything else. This is Amadeo.
He’s been patrolling this Rastro bar as if it were a trench since 1942. White-haired
and silver-tongued, the cheeky bastard is famous for his molluscs. Served in a pungent
sauce. In fact, the bar is called either Casa Amadeo or simply Caracoles. Snails. And for slug
junkies these fat babies are the Holy Grail. Another Amadeo specialty. Pigs feet. Just like the sweetest fat you can imagine. Like a fat lolly. Delicious. I’m stuffed. The Rastro
is being dismantled and now you’ve come to a crossroads. Do you head home and sleep it
off on the sofa watching bad afternoon TV. Or do you forge ahead. You forge ahead. And
so the Rastro tapas crawl morphs into a La Latina bender. La Latina is the neighbourhood
alongside where Rastro refugees switch beer for more virgorous concoctions. Like
this mojito. Play your cards right and the afternoon will spiral out of control at a
frightening pace. See you in the Rastro! Salud!