And bakeries with dozens and dozens of yummy things on display in the windows:
However, my favorite place to ogle food was the outdoor food markets.
In Madrid we strolled through the Mercado de San Miguel: Technically, it's an outdoor market, because although it has a roof, it only has roll-up plastic curtains for walls. Inside, it resembles a gigantic tapería wedded to a nonstop bakery fused onto a paella restaurant the size of a basketball court:
The place is packed with locals sopping up tapas, washing down drinks, and nabbing yummy things to take home for dinner or dessert:
BIG pan of paella!:
In the midst of all the hubbub and activity, it's still possible to share a quiet moment with someone special:
My hands-down favorite outdoor food market, however, is La Boquería in Barcelona. It is like a huge, outdoors temple to food. You can find everything there, from a whole sheep's head to tiny silver nonpareils for decorating cookies, and everything in between:
I loved the chocolate teacups and hedgehogs:
Stunning marzipan fruits and veggies and other crazy food shapes:
Tiny licorice cats:
Three different filled-dough thingies on a stick, for takeaway snacking. Genius:
Dragonfruit, I think? all wrapped and spoon'd and equally portable:
Mounds of eggs in straw:
Rather disgusting-looking razor clams:
and fish so fresh it'll bite if you get too close:
This gal was expertly filleting fish with a wicked knife about the size of a machete:
Beautiful mushrooms for sale:
Teeny-tiny wild strawberries with a big price tag:
Don't look if you're a vegetarian!:
I wish there were a Boquería around the corner from my house. On the other hand, I'd overeat daily if there were.
So, maybe not.