Buenos Aires – When it comes to public transportation in Buenos Aires, there are a few “musts”. You must take a colectivo at least once, rocketing and careening through the streets, preferably with a driver who thinks the horn is as important as the steering wheel and gas pedal. You must take the Tren de la Costa up to Tigre, just to experience the ride and watch the scenery. And key, you must, simply must, take the A train. The A train was the first line of the subte system (June 1, 1914), and the stations and trains still maintain the vestiges of a bygone era – a time when the subway system was, in some manner, a ride of elegance, a ride for those of the elite, those who didn’t need to walk to get where they were going. The lamps still look like old gas lamps, the cars are panelled in darkened and stained wood, the doors are manually operated to open them if you wish to exit, and, in the last moment before alighting, there are mirrors alongside the doors in which to check your appearance before you step out into the world again. The A line runs from the center of the downtown world on out to barrio Caballito (soon to be extended out to barrio Flores), ending at the stop Primera Junta, where it joins up with the suburban train lines.
When you exit into the sunlight at Primera Junta, you find yourself along Avenida Rivadavia, one of the principal thoroughfares of the city. You also find yourself across the street from the hulking Mercado del Progreso, Rivadavia 5430, a nearly block-square food market that dates back 130 years. Inside, you won’t find the fancy imported spice and cheese shops of Mercado Belgrano, but instead, shop after shop dedicated to fresh produce – much of which you won’t see anywhere else in the city (a huge box of raw olives to brine yourself – a mere 6 pesos per kilo), beef and other red meats, chicken, rabbit, fish, wine (one store with a huge display of various jug wines), and local artesanal products like cheeses, sausages, and matambre. In fact, as you wander the corridors, it’s not unusual to come across a work table laid out with a local butcher hand preparing and rolling some of the best matambre you’ll ever taste, or stuffing meters and meters of fresh chorizos.
While open to the public Monday through Saturday during the mornings (until 1:00) and then later in the afternoon from 5:00 – 10:00, the market is a private enclave of iconoclastic producers. I wasn’t in the space snapping photos more than two minutes before I was accosted by the market’s security. Luckily, they were delighted with my reasons for being there and taking photos, and a few smiles all around and suddenly stall owners were offering me samples and chatting about their products, and even demanding that I include their photos in my writeup! I’ll leave the rest of this as a photo essay.
Mounds of fruits and vegetables throughout the market.
More mounds, including oddities like raw olives, various peppers and potatoes that you don’t see elsewhere in the city.
Numerous producers of various types of sausages, all artesanal made, from fresh to cured, and even a demonstration of sausage making at one shop.
A display of various brands of jug wine, and one of the numerous butcher shops.
A shop specializing in chicken and rabbit (including it’s own nearby workshop – below), and one of the two fish markets.
Making chicken matambre by hand, and the final result (after roasting it off) – quite possibly the best matambre I’ve ever had.