In the heart of Barcelona, Spain, there is a road called Rambla dells Caputxins, or La Rambla for short. Teeming with life, La Rambla is a wide, busy road that is partially blocked off for pedestrian traffic. You can buy all sorts of things along this street: flowers, crepes, postcards, newspapers, hamsters, and a steaming hot pan of paella. But perhaps the most interesting part of La Rambla is Mercat de La Boqueria, Barcelona's famous open food market.
Ferran Adrià, chef of Spain's famous elBulli, called the mercat "A temple of gastronomy,' if that gives you any idea of what a culinary wonderland this place its. While you can buy all sorts of interesting things on La Rambla, within the huge hangar-like structure of Mercat de La Boqueria you'll find an incredible selection of Spanish fare. Fruit and produce are just a small portion of what's available; there are rows upon rows of incredibly fresh seafood, cured meats, freshly-foraged mushrooms, and delectable handmade sweets.
The variety and freshness of the foods in the Mercat de La Boqueria can be overwhelming for even the most experienced foodie -- one could easily spend four or five hours roaming the stalls, deciding what to eat or prepare for dinner. My first visit took me about three hours, and I finally left because, being on vacation, I couldn't bear the thought of not having a place to prepare any of the wonderful things I was seeing. My second (and third!) trip to the market also took hours. Really, there is so much to see, smell, and taste.
This is one of those situations where pictures speaks much louder than words, so I'll just show you the loveliness of it all. Be prepared for the urge to book the next one-way ticket to Spain.