Andrea Carolina de la Joz Gaviria stops in the middle of her steps and warns me. “It’s a very messy place here,” she says. “are you ready?”
The first thing that strikes me is the smell. Hundreds of chunky fish lay neatly on the ice, and the table beneath them is about to crumble. Then heat. A meter away, a man throws wood under a huge cauldron of bubbling oil. Secondly, the noise of Ciampeta music, blasted at full volume only in these parts of the world, means that Andrea’s next sentence is completely inaudible. “Go!” she repeats, grinning.
It feels like another secret world just a 15-minute drive from the new hotels, restaurants and bars emerging in the heart of Cartagena. Unforgettable ceviche in Cartagena’s best restaurants – fish selected here at 4am by the chef. A mango to eat between museum visits? It was purchased here hours ago and was a tenth the price.
Admittedly, Buzzult Market isn’t for everyone. “Some people refuse to get out of their cars,” says chef and guide Andrea. Anthony Bourdain visited here in 2008 for his show No Reservations. The stall owner proudly tells us every time.
Go deep into a Warren-like market, where shoppers scramble for space and the sun shines through the shadowy cracks in the tarpaulin. Andrea guides us through a vast tangle of paths, some half-paved with concrete, others slippery with mud. As she walks, she points out the vegetables that attract thousands here—a meter-long string bean coiled like a cable, a tuberous potato (too incomplete for a supermarket shelf). ), plump tomatoes that are red or not the desired shade of red. green. “Ugly but organic,” she declares.
There are stalls piled high with tropical fruits nearby. The owner, at Andrea’s request, reluctantly turned her music down a notch. “We have to listen to music when we do something,” she explains. “It’s culture. We dance when we hear it.” Along with the guamas, shaped like boomerangs, I chew zapote, a mild, sweet orange fruit that tends to splash in front of me. Andrea snaps it onto her leg and offers the inside – white fibers like cotton wool, hard black beans surrounded by natural cotton candy. It’s the juiciest mango I’ve ever had.
But the market isn’t just for fruits and vegetables. It’s for eating. A true Colombian dish. Go ahead and meet Enerfi’s stall Doña Ene. She wears a purple bandana and apron, unperturbed by the heat of the pot in front of her. “She’s been here every day for her 38 years,” says Andrea. So it’s no surprise that her signature fish is perfect. She seasoned chunks of Sierra fish with lime, garlic and salt, deep-fried them, then tipped them onto a plate garnished with strips of yuca. eat.
Next, take a seat inside the purple walls of a small restaurant called Cecilia, where fish soup, the most unlikely hangover sedative in the country, is placed before your eyes. I don’t mind,’ says Andrea. “And this is a cheap way to eat.” Bourdain also called it the “promised land,” because the delicate, fragrant broth and tiny flakes of fish are so delicious.
After eating chunks of cheese and quince squid, rice and two servings of fish soup, you’ll arrive at the market’s most popular bar. We order costenitas. It’s a refreshing local beer that’s small enough to go down in three glasses. Sitting at a table and drinking a cold beer in the heat and chaos of the market is almost meditative. “Everything moves very fast in this city,” says Andrea. “New hotels, new restaurants, new visitors. But this market? Time has stopped.”
how do you do
The Bazurut Market Experience costs £36, including several meals and drinks.