artichoke bottoms, which were everywhere there.) Venice is a strange and beautiful city. There's nowhere else quite like it: a city of palaces and walkways floating on the sea. It has a tiny population — just about 90,000, if you count the surrounding islands — but it receives millions of visitors every year. So the most famous market, the Rialto, of necessity has something of a tourist flair. Take a peek! The market, as befits Venice's ocean perch, is rich with seafood, as well as produce. Like many other tourist-driven markets, it was hard to determine what was local and what was flown in from far away for color and variety. But the stalls were laid out on the canal in cheery striped rows, and it was a pleasant way to spend a morning — browsing dates, oranges, plums, figs, and fennel, and watching the fishmongers expertly slit open big fish and serve them up to customers. Have you ever been to Venice and the Rialto market? What did you buy there? We picked up some swordfish and the makings of a big salad, as well as some porcini (which were sadly well past their prime — I should have insisted that the stall owner let me pick them out myself). And you really can't beat the trip down the canal to the market — have you ever ridden on a water bus? The vaporettos are one of the most fun and memorable parts of Venice, in my opinion!
MORE EUROPEAN MARKET REPORTS • A Food-Lover's Walk Down Rue Montorgueil in Paris • Vegetarian Cooking in Cinque Terre, Italy with Tim the Girl • Market Tour: The Famous Cours Saleya • Farmer's Market Report: Languedoc-Rousillion, France (Images: Faith Durand)