Dani, the greengrocer and Mercasevilla

Dani, the greengrocer and Mercasevilla

Customer of a greengrocer in Carmona, I asked his Dani, his owner, to accompany him during one of his daily visit to the wholesale market of Mercasevilla. It took place on 3 December 2014 at 2.30 a.m.!


I found the greengrocer shop of Dani and his sister Rocio last summer by word of mouth. The shop was so small that it was quite difficult to find on a small square hidden by white buildings in a popular neighbourhood of Carmona called barrio de la Paz.


So small is the shop that fruit and vegetable invade it inside as well as outside. Mornings you always have to queue up. Fortunately you can sit on one of the benches of the square, ask who is the last customer and read a while waiting for your turn.


On this photo you can see the order of one single client piled up on the counter. Sometimes I queue up with others either to learn Andalusian ways to express oneself or what’s up in the town. Why such a success and why so many people? Easy: Dani offers very attractive prices. In Andalusia, families count many members. They don’t need one but three kilos of onions per week nor do they need one but six kilos of tomatoes to cook their sauce or prepare their gazpacho, etc.


Dani’s father stayed at home so I could sit in the van to follow the early start up of Dani’s long working day and get the opportunity to find the origin of the fruit and vegetable I was eating each day.

We picked up the driver Gabriel to enable Dani to rest during the thirty minutes drive to Seville during which we didn’t see one single vehicle, both ways, pay the entrance fee costing less than 2 euros and get into what Emile Zola referred to as the “belly” of Seville.


fuente http://www.mercasevilla.es/

fuente http://www.mercasevilla.es/

I was very surprised to acknowledge that during quarter of a century I drove past this huge area without knowing that these 50 hectares were located along the kilometre one of the highway linking Seville to Malaga.  Inaugurated in 1971, Mercasevilla “ is the biggest wholesale market of southern Europe regrouping more than 270 companies  and supplying not only the neighbouring towns like Carmona but also Extremadura and the Portuguese Algarve, e.g. approximately 2.5 millions people”

(Source : http://www.mercasevilla.es/ )


fuente: http://www.mercasevilla.es/

fuente: http://www.mercasevilla.es/

This plan shows the industrial buildings dedicated to fruit and vegetable in green, the one specialised in fish in blue, the meat: in pink. There is also a slaughterhouse.

mercaseville quais auteur Joane Artaud

The tower where a sort of heart is designed displays the hour. It was 3.15 a.m.  Temperature was 9ºC. While Gabriel waits to park at the loading platform, we enter into one of the three building of 23.200 m2 each specialised in fruit and vegetables.


Dani makes me visit one of the cool chambers to store perishable goods and we enter the central opening. My first impression was that it was orderly and empty! Well it was normal because despite the fact that Mercasevilla operates on a 24 hour basis 365 days a year Dani told me that wholesalers started displaying goods at midnight to be ready to welcome  the early buyers from nearby towns by 2 a.m. Had I made this visit at 9 a.m. it would have been overcrowded.



Dani goes left so I walked on the opposite side through endives, white grapes and kakis. I was not warmly welcomed because I must confess my warm clothes did not make me look like an ordinary buyer.


Dani et Joane

You can see my appearance on this photo taken at 6 a.m. when we were back. Behind are the potatoes, oranges and mandarins shown on the upper photos showing the crammed exterior of the shop.


However, my smile, my accent and the handing of a card mentioning the name and address of my blog helped. Except the bananas originating from the Ivory Coast where I spent 20 years…


Beside the pineapples, the origin of which I did not check and the mangoes that came from Brazil, it was a pleasure for me to note that the majority of fruit and vegetables offered there originated either from Andalusia or from Spain. Let’s talk about tomatoes for example.


About these tomatoes delicious for salads, Manuel, the porter from the lower photo who had just taken plastic threads told me they came from Chipiona, province of Cadiz. He stood behind cartons of kakis originating from a cooperative from Valencia


He brought me up to a slightly hidden case telling me that the best tomatoes to be eaten in salad originated from Los Palacios, province of Seville.


A little further, these small tomatoes came from Malaga.


Finally the tomatoes of the lower photo came from Montilla, province of Cordoba.


My mouth is watering just looking at these onions.



oinions from andalusia

Red onions are excellent for the salad. The most ordinary ones are those beside. This year onions are hard to peal. My mother would have predicted that winter will be cold!


Trying to get into a wholesale dealer’s shop I was stopped by a lot of courgettes and pumpkins.



I liked these pumpkins wrapped into transparent plastic films!

In Andalusia pumpkins area appreciated in soups, stews or on oven. It’s a difficult art because they are very hard to peal and to cut.





Who would resist buying these superb cauliflowers?


Or these yellow bell peppers!

fresh oinions

Sliced, these fresh onions make a savoury dressing to many dishes.


In my article “Summer al campo” I was showing sun dried thistles called targaninas. They are for sale here to be incorporated to soups or eat fried with scrambled eggs. Beside you can see chirimoyas an exotic fruit only growing on the tropical coast of the provinces of Granada and of Almeria. Its production is so reduced that they are not exported from Spain.


The long season of artichokes is just starting. I looked on labels to check their origin and expiration date. They indeed came from Malaga.  I am convinced these will be sold at a lower price.

The strangest and most exotic finding I made were these exotic mushrooms.


I looked for their traceability and found that despite their exotic names like  Shii Taki and Eryng II sounding Japanese, they came from Val de la Jara Cuenca, Spain.


I liked this discovery because in Carmona, the only mushrooms you can buy are those you see on the lower photo that grow on tree trunks, so they say. We also have the white Champignons de Paris.



This is the inside of one of the 102 sale points of fruit and vegetables at Mercasevilla. The clock shows it is 3.50 a.m. Not one single woman was present.

mercasevilla,   fruit and vegetable pavillon

I reached the end of the hangar at 4.10 a.m. More goods were displayed and more buyers were there.

Sweet oranges from Seville

On my way back, I was attracted by wrapped oranges. The owner (lower photo) was Mr Del Río. He told me they were sweet oranges called cañadal that came from his town Arahal.


He also had a farm in Carmona. I was pleased to meet a neighbour!


Back in the middle of the building I saw water fountains. The toilets were on top floors. It was time to visit the cafeteria.


The counter was crowded with men only while the TV set was on like in all the coffee shops of Spain though nobody looked at it.

workers at Mercasevilla

I spoke to the men in front of me who accepted to pause asking me to comment that they were workers and men of peace.

dani en Mercasevilla

I finally found Dani who asked me to take photo with his suppliers.


We walked back to the loading platform where Gabriel was starting to load the bottom of the van with tomatoes and onions.


Other cases waiting to be loaded ………..


A last photo and at 5.30 a.m. it was time to go back to Carmona, always at night. Prior to try to sleep again, I asked Dani why was he buying so much fruit and vegetables on a daily basis. He told me that he was supplying five other greengrocers’ in Carmona as well as some bars for their tapas. Ole !

Dani et Gabriel

Once back, Dani was cold just before unloading and getting ready to open his shop at 8.a.m. up to 2p.m. then from 6-8 p.m. Being aware that prior to the crisis Dani was a construction worker and that to become a greengrocer was a conversion, I can only  pay my respect to his initiative!