Shopping at an outdoor food market, opposed to a cold, fluorescently lit space selling mostly packaged and frozen goods, can be uplifting.
They are quite a sight: The beautiful palette of seasonal fruits and vegetables, next to fresh flowers and jars of handmade jams, create a living painting. More importantly, most food markets support local farmers, ranchers and fishmongers.
As people grow more conscious of what they eat and how they affect the environment, they demand to know the provenance of food and how it is produced.
Most of all, you can't beat the flavors of farm-fresh tomatoes, peaches, arugula or that just-caught halibut. Whether you're a foodie in search of rare delicacies, someone who likes to buy local produce or just a curious traveler, next time you're in a new town, see what's cooking at the market. Here are five that will make your journey worthwhile.
Mercat de la Boqueria, Barcelona
There's much to see in Barcelona, a city of surreal modernist buildings and haunting Gothic streets. One place you cannot miss is Boqueria, perhaps the most famous food market in the world. It is also one of the oldest, established unofficially in the 13th century along the central avenue known as Las Ramblas.Today the market sells a dizzying variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, conserves and meats displayed kaleidoscopically. To a seafood lover, this is paradise: crawfish, shrimp, crabs, clams, mussels and more, all impossibly fresh (some still alive). If you can't take these treats home with you, stop at one of the lunch counters like Kiosko Universal and order your favorite shellfish or the day's catch. They'll grill it right in front of you, adding just a dash of olive oil and salt -- something so good doesn't need condiments. Open Mondays to Saturdays; Plaça de la Boqueria; +3493/318-2017.