Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Urban Diary

As soon as I come out of London Bridge tube station the late morning winter’s breeze hits me. There is a freshness in the air, a chill that hints at colder temperatures ahead and yet the sun’s presence suggests (misleadingly) warmth.

I turn left on to Borough High Street, spot the cross through the bare tree branches and know that I’ve arrived. Borough Market beckons me.

This is a part of London of which I’ve heard much but to which I’ve never been. Following two years of disruption caused by Network Rail’s decision to carry out some construction work in the area, the market has just re-opened its doors recently.

I thread my way in amongst the stalls. At one of the entrances I’m greeted by the smell and sight of a beautifully cooked Spanish paella. It is a real piece of art. I ask the man behind the counter if he is Spanish himself. No, Polish, he answers. I smile at him and regret not knowing the Polish expression for “thank you for keeping the Hispanic tradition alive”.

Once inside the market the traders vie for everyone’s attention. At the Free From Bakehouse I ask Caroline Aherne, the owner, if she has any dairy-, egg- and nut-free cake I could buy for my daughter. She has but sadly it’s the same banana cake my little one is so good at cooking herself. My luck changes for the better at the Chocolicious stall. Hayleigh Bazelya is an expert in her field and she has the right product for me: half a dozen bonbons made of pure chocolate with neither milk, nor egg, nor nuts in them elegantly wrapped.  At two quid per bag, it feels like a snip. Now it’s the turn for my wife, my son and me.

At the Ion Pattiserie I find exactly what I’m looking for: a thick, brick-like, almond cake, with a soft cream centre. The owner, Georgeta Decuseara (or her husband, for it is a bloke who serves me) is also talkative, solicitous and courteous. I buy three slices which set me back just over a fiver. It’s time to have lunch I tell myself.

I stop at La Porteña where I simultaneously hear the traders speaking in Spanish to each other and spot a mate gourd sitting on a table. They’re both Argentinian. Their empanadas (pasties) are just a couple of quid and look the business. Yet, after having some small talk with them, I turn around and let my nose dictate the way. It leads me to the German Deli Ltd. I buy a gigantic sausage with plenty of Sauerkraut, mustard and ketchup.

I have spent just over an hour at Borough Market and yet I have covered just one third of the area. I make a mental note to return soon. I would like to visit the De Calabria stall where they sell soppressata, one of Italy’s more popular salamis. D’Issa is another option with its wild array of products from Croatia. Similarly, I would like to experiment with some of the spices sold by SpiceMountain.

But for now, I head out of the market on what has become a bright, February winter’s afternoon.

© 2013

Photos by the blog author

Next Post: “Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music”, to be published on Sunday 3rd March at 10am (GMT)

26 comments:

  1. Echoing rosaria. I could almost smell the wonderful dishes at that market. Yummo.

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  2. Oh how I love this tour. I felt as if I was walking right with you. And oh, that almond cake sounds good!

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  3. Great tour you took us on, as many dishes surely did dawn.

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  4. nice...i love markets like that...so much culture....laughed at the polish guy holding onto hispanic traditions...i love paella....mmm.....so many people to meet...i would love to visit this place again...maybe for real next time...smiles.

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  5. You are making me very hungry! And hungry for something good! Agh! K.

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  6. I love markets of food and love this tour for all these places; yummy and adorable!

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  7. Hay que tomarse el tiempo y dejarse ir por estos mercadillos tan encantadores que huelen a sabores muchas veces ya olvidados.
    Vuelve a él, un abrazo

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  8. Sounds like a wonderful Market! I miss the markets we visited while living in Europe. They were the best!

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  9. ah nice..sounds like a wonderful place to visit...mulitcultural and you had even sauerkraut...made me smile

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  10. Many thanks for your comments. It would be great if you click on the links I provided. It would help these independent traders a lot.

    Borough Market is one of the more picturesque markets I've come across in London and I was desperate to go. So much I'd heard about it. At some point it was rumoured it was going to disappear. I'm glad it didn't.

    Greetings from London.

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  11. I´ve been to a lot of places but I never been to London. Markets are nice to walk in. But I rarely buy stuff.

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  12. i would love to visit this market looks amazing and hear great things about it

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  13. Thanks for this. It is a part of London that I, also, have not visited. Now I very much want to.

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  14. Beautiful photos!
    www.rsrue.blogspot.com

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  15. A truly delicious post today! Oh...how I wish the market was down the street....ok....I would even travel 2 hours to go :) Fantastic...and so much fun...and the SMELLS!!! Laughing, because my husband would SO be at the German deli getting his fill...then, as well he would be spending the rest of his time at De Calabria and the like....chatting with his Paisanos! Loved hearing the name Giuseppe...the husband wanted his first born to be named Giuseppe...after a lot of guff from his family we settled on Nicholas :) It's a good conversation piece at least!
    Hope everyone enjoyed their treats!

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  16. Oh myyyy. You had me smelling the delicious aromas of paella and sausage and empanadas. My stomach is growling! Sounds like a wonderful market. Thank you for the tour!

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  17. Lo bueno que sabe todo cuándo se está lejos del sitio del que es originaria la comida...

    Saludos

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  18. I can smell the goodies and I think I might have put on a pound or two just reading about these treats. Thanks for sharing your day.

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  19. What delicious descriptions- now I'm hungry!

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  20. Glad you resorted to using your smartphone camera when the digital one pooped out on you! Those sweet treats sound yummy and I can't help but wonder how an empanada made in London compares to the ones you grew up with.

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  21. Many thanks for your kind comments.

    Greetings from London.

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  22. It's nice to read this post becuase you have really appreciated what there is in Borough Market. I've often passed it and thought the things there look nice, but never thought to take such an intelligent interest in the food itself or the people who make it.

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