Borough Market is my favourite – it’s one of the places in London that I’ve been going to ever since I was young, and every time I go back there it reminds me of every time I’ve been before. It’s one of those places that I heard said so many times when I was young that the name became more of a concept than an actual name: I’m pretty sure I thought it was “Burra Market” until I was about 10. We didn’t go into London that often since we tended to go to places closer to home, but when we did, Southbank was always our favourite. My sister and I used to grab our scooters and take them on the train to Waterloo, and we’d scoot all the way down Southbank to the market. It’s not very far at all but I was always desperate for the sights and smells of the wonderful food at the vibrant and exciting market, selling everything from cheese and pies to meats, veg and fresh pasta.
It became something of a yearly tradition to go there and each year I’d remember something slightly different which stuck in my mind: one year it was the “Mushroom Man” who sold all different kinds of mushrooms and spent a while discussing the different types with us; I’d always had quite a fascination with seeing mushrooms of all shapes and sizes and love cooking with them. We’d explore all of the different stalls in both parts of the market and then choose somewhere to have lunch. It was always a struggle and most times we ended up going to three different stalls as my Mum, my sister and I all wanted something different – but the beauty of a market like this is that you can all go to different places! Food in hand (I usually had some kind of exotic burger), we’d go to sit in on the benches outside Southwark Cathedral to eat because it was always a lovely summery day. After lunch we’d scoot all the way back to Waterloo again, maybe stopping in some shops along the way. It always made for a pretty good day out!
This post was inspired by the fact that I found myself back in Borough Market today, actually quite by accident. I headed across London Bridge to the south side of the river, planning to walk along to the Tate Modern, completely forgetting that I knew this side of the river by heart and that I was right by the market already. This past week, I’ve stopped getting the tube in the city centre and although I vaguely knew how the city connected up, I can finally see it properly from actually walking from place to place! It’s weird being so used to getting the tube everywhere that you almost forget that these places aren’t so far apart and that there are things to see in between them. So, I hit Borough Market from a different direction and decided to grab a quick lunch before heading back along Southbank to Waterloo.
The market is always brimming with people and there are so many stalls, lots of which offer free samples of cheese, sandwiches, ham, coffee… you name it! The smells are incredible and I always feel like I could eat something from any one of those stalls. One of them was selling ostrich, crocodile and kangaroo burgers and another some form of scallop dish, so there is a huge variety! The produce is all so fresh and even though the stalls change regularly, this is Britain’s oldest food market and has been open to the public for over 1,000 years – I’m quite happy to have been there even for the last 20! It’s open Monday-Saturday every week and even has a great website for if you’re looking for something in particular. Products aren’t all cheap (though not particularly overpriced) since they are all artisan and high-quality, but the food to-go is not bad value ranging from £4-8 on average for a main meal. You’ll get just as full as in a restaurant though!
Today I made a break with the past and had something other than a burger: I saw a great looking stall called Ethiopian Flavours which was offering meat/vegetarian dishes served with rice or bread. I went for the chicken cooked with spices, a tomato-based sauce and onions served with an aromatic spinach dish and a yellow split pea dish resembling a form of dhal. It was absolutely delicious and I’d definitely have it again, even though there is so much else on offer. This place is unsurprisingly popular with people on their lunch break, and I don’t blame them – I would definitely go there regularly if I worked nearby.
Today was a great reminder of all the fun days spent at Borough Market and going to and from it down Southbank, and I can’t wait until next time I go back! Maybe I’ll have to take my scooter for old time’s sake.
Stay tuned for more “In and around” London posts soon 🙂