Friday, July 1, 2011

Food for thought

Mushrooms for sale at Borough Market
London's Borough Market is at the south end of the London Bridge, on the south side of the Thames River. Here, food merchants gather to sell their fresh produce, meat, fish and prepared foods to retail and wholesale customers alike. It is said to be one of the largest food markets in the world.

It was first mentioned historically in the year 1276, and probably because of the traffic jams and nuisances it created - because this has been the overriding theme of this market - ever since.

Traffic got so bad that by 1756, Parliament enacted a law to abolish it. The merchants set up a little ways away, which flourished because it was close to the docks of the Thames, where shippers could easily tie up and unload.

By 1851, it was a done deal, and the current buildings - their overarching iron and glass ceilings and ornate entry - were built.

Stallholders from all over Britain and Europe come to sell their wares. It's a wholesale market during the week, but Thursday through Saturday, it welcomes retail customers, and has become a regular attraction for residential Londoners, workers in the area, and tourists.

In recent years, traditional meat and produce vendors have been joined by sellers of prepared foods as well as wine and cider vendors, and restaurateurs. The choices reflect updated tastes - there is a sushi place as well as coffee shops; a chocolatier and an oyster bar.

Entry beneath the bridge footings
When we visited, I didn't have a clear idea of the geographic orientation of the place. It was clearly near the Underground or Overground train lines, since stalls were sheltered beneath arching viaducts, and the rumble of trains were heard nearby. Visitors thread their way through bridge abutments, narrow cobbled lanes, and high-arched entries.
Tiny florist's shop beneath the bridge
 Storefronts on adjacent side streets expand the territory for food lovers. Menus of nearby restaurants and even pubs reflect the high standard of quality set by the market's purveyors.
Terrines and pates at the Ginger Pig
 The ancient Southwark Cathedral - dating from at least the13th century - is just north of the market. Its gentle golden stones enclose a sheltered garden of herbs and cottage flowers.

Seeing the church contrasted with the market, and against the modern skyscrapered sky emphasizes the dynamic history of the city.

Southwark Cathedral, 13th century, with "The Shard" in background
 On our visit, morning services were in progress and a congregation full of school children sat politely in the sanctuary.  Outside in the churchyard, tourists and lunchtime workers lounged and ate their picnics.

Oysters at Wright Brothers
The oyster bar was full of suit-clad business men downing rich dark porter with their oysters and brown bread-and-butter.

I was surprised to see the wine merchant selling mixed drinks. Here, you can get a Pimm's Cup to walk around with. Where are we, New Orleans?

Chicken masala and Thai seafood curry
 You can grab a grilled chorizo and argula sandwich, or a scoop of Thai seafood curry, and make yourself at home.

Have something tasty for dessert at the confectionery shop.

What did we do? We purchased some cheese, fruit, and charcuterie and then had a feast back at our lodging.
Our dinner - cheese, fruit, and terrine
 It was delicious, and it gave us a chance to relax from our wanderings. Pretty good!

My access online is limited, and because we are out of our lodgings most of the day, I don't have much time to post or write. We went to the Borough Market a week ago, and that visit is what this post is about - so I'll probably be catching up on my posts about London for a few weeks  after we return to Los Angeles.  In the meantime - enjoy, if you like. We're having a great time.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

A Pimm's Cup and Thai seafood curry sounds wonderful about now. Thank you for taking the camera!

(Awaiting BBBB's pics from Maine.)

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...


So there is an app for that.

Another Kiwi said...

Marvellous phots Aunt Snow and good writing too.
It used to be that the oysters would have been from the lower reaches of the Thames but a few typhoid epidemics knocked that on the head.
Do I look like a hamster to you Mr. so-called Thunder?

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

I love those giant metal pans full of the prepared curries.