I’m surrounded by barrows of fresh carrots, artichokes and apples, listening to the apron-clad green grocer captivate the crowd with his performance of Bizet’s Carmen. The crowd swirls around me, eager shoppers clutching brown paper bags of groceries.
Borough Market London
It’s a typical Saturday morning at the Borough Market where Londoners flock to fill their larders with fresh produce each weekend under the market’s wrought-iron Victorian roof.
For me, it’s delightfully local. After a few days of travelling around the Monopoly board, visiting London’s top tourist destinations, I was ready for something a little more local.
From hand-made Molton Mowbray pork pies to fine French pate, farm fresh free range eggs to goose fat from corn-fed geese, the Borough Market London is the city’s foodie central.
The staggering variety includes fresh scallops (sold by the diver who collected them), Italian cheeses, Indian spices and freshly baked roasted potato and rosemary bread.
For visitors, it’s a great place to sample fresh produce while enjoying the local atmosphere.
Lots of food stalls
A sign at the Sillfield Farm stall claiming that a major supermarket purchased their special dry-cured bacon last week catches my eye. I stop to watch the butchers at work.
Dressed in bright red, white and maroon uniforms and bowler hats, the butchers look like they’re about to step on a stage.
In a way, the market is one huge theatrical show. The only difference is there’s no script, just a good dose of local life.
A nut seller pushes a tray of free samples in front of me. “Try some almonds; they’re the best in London,” he says.
He points to his stall which has rows of nuts and Middle Eastern sweets. I give in and purchase a bag of Turkish delights.
The market is a maze of stalls organised in four sections: Crown Square, The Green Market, The Jubilee Market and shops and restaurants in the streets around the market.
At one stall, there are rows of wooden buckets with many different varieties of olives, feta cheese and Greek dolmades vine leaves.
Nearby, a throng is pressed around a confectionary stall eagerly piling freshly made chocolates into paper bags.
The Borough Market London is London’s oldest food market and was established on the south bank of the Thames as far back as when the Romans built the first London Bridge. The market has occupied its present site for 250 years.
Above the market, in the revamped Floral Hall, I decide to sit down for a meal at Roast. My table has a view of customers queuing for fresh fish and meat in the market below.
Roast Restaurant is the brainchild of Iqbal Wahhab, the founder of the Cinnamon Club restaurant in Westminster. Bangladesh-born Wahhab is passionate about promoting Britain’s farmers and fishermen, who according to Roast’s mantra, are among the best in the world.
The chef sources produce from local producers to cook a modern British menu which offers delights like Maldon oysters on ice, herring roes on toast and potted gammon with toasted Hoxton rye.
I wash my meal down with a Borough Sling of Tanqueray gin shaken with cherries, pineapple juice and a touch of thyme. It’s a delicious way end a visit to London’s oldest food market.
Christina Pfeiffer was a guest of Emirates Airline and Visit Britain.