IT WAS more like a quick visit to the market, but it was no ordinary one. If Barcelona has the La Boqueria in the famed Las Ramblas, Stockholm has its own indoor market, the Ostermalms Saluhall.
How would I know there was one in the city? That's a give-away that I didn't do my research and relied on my friends who hollered that they're willing to be the designated tour guide in the place they live in. Luck was on my side. It made the visit to the Swedish Capital was made more fulfilling.
The Saluhall is not just a market but a food hall as well, one of the world's best as ranked by food connoisseurs. Before it attracted the tourists and became a dining hotspot in Stockholm, the historic market is where the locals score their fresh, high quality ingredients, perhaps even the hard to find ones. It has been so for more than a century. What the market sells end up in the dishes the restaurants serve in the food hall.
In 1888, Ostermalms Saluhall was built as a large covered market with areas to be leased as food halls. Its design inspiration was that of the era's brick and cast-iron architectural trend seen around Europe especially in France.
On the onset of winter in 1888 with King Oscar II present, a magnificent food hall was unveiled-pillars and brick walls supporting a large glass roof, a colorful and ornately decorated food hall in red and blue, and food stalls in dark lacquered wood detailed with carvings.
However, it took a while before the market came to life. It was not until the city purchased the building and banned the street market trading with hygiene as its main reason that the Ostermala Saluhall's stalls were used in full. This move kicked off its success.
There may have been changes made from the original design but a significant part of the original interior remains.
What remains unchanged is the practice. Today, 17 traders, many of which are run by families for generations, are united in passion in the Ostermalms Saluhall's tradition of extending personal service, whipping up good food and selling high quality ingredients since its conception in 1888. Shopping and enjoying food is as vibrant and inspiring experience as it was on day one.
Ostermalms Saluhall may have been a contribution to the history of Stockholm, but it's not officially listed as a place of historical interest, but it enjoys the same level of protection as one.
The renovation of the famed market is on the drawing board and may have commenced this year. This will ensure that the preservation of a historical structure which will be enjoyed by the future generations of food lovers and connoisseurs.
Maybe on the next visit I won't be rushing through its alleys, but take a slower pace and perhaps, enjoy the cuisine of one or two dining spots.
For more photos about this story, and other travel and lifestyle stories, http://jeepneyjinggoy.blogspot.com and http://apples-and-lemons.blogspot.com