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