If I could name one market that I’ve been to that isn’t afraid to bare it all, it would have to be Trancoso Farm & Fish Market.
When coming to Trancoso, visitors quite possibly only stick to the rustic and beautifully styled village in and around the Quadrado. That’s all good, but if you want a taste of the real Trancoso where the locals are, then you have to head back to the gritty part your van or car drove through before dropping you at your hotel in the village.
It’s here, every Saturday morning, that you can find a market that’s a true taste of this part of Bahia. It’s dusty, it’s noisy, it’s hectic and it assaults all of the senses.
Fresh fruits and vegetables – many you recognise and some you may not – are laid out in wooden crates, on trellis tables or simply on tarps on the ground. They’re cheap, they’re colourful and everyone is buying up big-time.
This isn’t a market where you find artisanal products. The closest you may get to that are bottles of chillies and small peppers marinating in vinegar, lumped in a box or wheelbarrow; baking in the blistering sun. Maybe a few carved bowls and woven hats and baskets.
Then things get real.
Sanitation doesn’t exist when it comes to the fresh seafood stands that are a constant flurry of activity. Fish are being scaled and gutted on wooden benches, laid out for prospective buyers. Prawns and shellfish sit inside well-used styrofoam boxes and live, bright blue crabs struggle to break free from the strappy leaves that bind their claws like straight jackets.
And then there’s the fresh meat.
Stop scrolling now if seeing butchered animals makes you queasy.
The same lack of sanitation applies to the meat suppliers. Plastic tarps and wooden boards are splattered with bits of meat, bone and fat. Butchers hack into carcasses with an axe as hungry puppies scramble to eat any flying debris that hits the ground.
Sausages, lungs, intestines and kidneys hang from hooks and pigs trotters and heads lay about for all to see. As I mentioned earlier, this is one market that has nothing to hide, and it’s just what I’d expect.