In June, I was invited to join in on one of Devour Spain’s food tours. I had less than a month left living in my beloved Madrid, and at that point thought I knew everything there was to know about my city.
However, I was excited to do a tour anyway because maybe… just maybe! I’d learn or try something new. After a few hours, my Spanish food baby and I left the tour in the midst of a panic attack because apparently just when I thought I had seen and tried all things Madrid, Madrid Food Tour’s (MFT) Huertas Neighborhood Food & Market Tour proved me very, very wrong. I had approximately 20 days left to figure out what else I had missed throughout the past two years.
I don’t want to spoil anything about the places we visited or the foods we tried, because really, you have to experience it all for yourself. Half the fun is the mystery of it! But here’s why I think YOU should do a food tour in your own city…
There is so much history that still lingers around those Spanish bars, cafes, restaurants, and markets. A handful of these places were more than a hundred years old–I even learned a trick to identify the Madrid establishments that have surpassed the century-old mark! (see above plaque.)
On the MFT, you hear stories about the owners, their lineage, how their parents’, parents’, parents opened the bar during WWII. You enter what may look like an ordinary little place you probably wouldn’t ever decide to enter on your own, and leave wanting to bring back all of your friends so you can share the interesting stories and history of these not so ordinary places.
2. You might try new foods & learn more about not-so-new foods
After two years in Madrid, I knew a thing or two about tapas and Spanish cuisine. However, if you asked me to differentiate between olives, my only response would be that maybe one is black and the other is green.
I also found myself more prone to try the food on the tour, some of which I never would have ordered out on my own, but actually quite liked and would order again.
3. You may find new streets and neighborhoods to wander, in addition to new bars and restaurants to return to
The Huertas neighborhood (also known as Barrio de las Letras) was pretty foreign to me since I lived on the other side of Madrid.
After walking around the barrio with the tour, I decided to spend the rest of my afternoon exploring the neighborhood on my own. Huertas is a very charming barrio. It was a popular hangout for many famous writers, therefore it’s just bursting with history and allure.
4. The guides are an endless wealth of knowledge.
Debbie, our guide, knew so much about Spanish history and so much about Madrid, that there wasn’t a question she couldn’t knock out of the park. In my case, there were several things I always pondered about Madrid, but never really had a good source to ask… until I met Debbie.
… Which is always refreshing when you live in a foreign place! As a local, I found it really fun to interact with the tourists and the guide.
Now and again, Debbie would state a fact about Spanish people or Madrid and she would shoot me a look or add “Erica knows what I mean…” for a sweet sense of validation.
It made me feel highly regarded in my Spanish status. We all really bonded over the time we spent on the tour, and by the end, I was dishing out my own recommendations for the city—hoping to help them fall in love with it even more.