All eyes are on London – and the Borough Market is well worth a second look!

by Amanda McInerney on 30/07/2012

As the eyes of the world focus this month on London and the 30th Summer Olympic games I thought it timely to write up my final piece about our recent trip and most specifically our visit to the famous Borough Market.

Sitting on the south side of the Thames, near London Bridge, the history and fortunes of London’s Borough Market has waxed and waned over the last 800-900 years.  Originally adjoining the end of London Bridge, it has historically been a source of fresh fruit and vegetables, but in the mid-18th century it became so busy that the congestion it caused in the surrounding roads led to it being abolished by an Act of Parliament.  The Act allowed for the market to be moved within the area and during the 19th century it became one of London’s largest and most important fresh food markets, thanks to it’s proximity to the riverside wharves in the important “Pool of London” stretch of the Thames.

Owned by a charitable trust and administered by a board of volunteer trustees who must live within the area, the Borough Market of today is one of London’s largest and most significant tourist attractions.  Its use as a popular filming site for television food and cooking shows has made it something of a foodie mecca in London and it has evolved away from it’s historical focus on supplying the locals with fresh produce.  Trading to retail customers is limited to two half days and one full day per week and, while still selling some fresh everyday produce, the market has now grown to over 100 stalls which sell an impressive variety of both British and international produce.  It has become a very fashionable place to shop and, I have to say, the prices reflect this.

We had visited earlier in the week when it was officially closed and found, as is the case in Adelaide Central Market when closed, only a few stalls open and not a lot of life.  On our last day in London we headed back in on the tube, arriving right on opening time.   I like to be thorough with markets, so we did a first complete reconnoitering lap checking out all of the stalls and their wares, then a second lap making regular stops to buy urgently desired victuals to eat on the spot, then a third lap to fill a bag to take home to share with our hosts at afternoon tea.

As expected, there was an amazing array of products for sale – most of which I wanted to buy or at least try and fortunately most of the stalls offered tastes.  There were products that I had not encountered before, like fresh licorice root, an amazing selection of summer produce including another diverse selection of tomatoes, hot roast meats, paella, local seafood, French saucisson of all flavours, some very “interesting” looking cheeses, fresh made goats-milk ice cream, fresh-made confectionery  and an array of cakes and baked goods that just about had me weeping with desire.  By the time we were ready to leave the place was really bustling and seating was at an absolute premium.  Regardless of the fact that we were to fly out that evening we still managed to leave with our carry bag significantly laden and  The Husbands wallet correspondingly lighter – I’m afraid I just couldn’t help myself.

 

 

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Barbara | Creative Culinary July 31, 2012 at 7:55 am

Makes me wish I was there for more reasons than one, that’s for sure…what a fabulous place.

Jennifer @ Delicieux July 31, 2012 at 11:36 am

What a wonderful market. I love wandering through markets. Sadly Troy doesn’t have a whole lot of patience for it so I often don’t get a chance to look at everything. I’d love a slice of that Victoria Sponge (you can’t beat a classic). And that turbot (I think that’s what it is) looks scary.

Hotly Spiced July 31, 2012 at 12:24 pm

I think it’s hard for us here in Australia to imagine a market that’s been around for over 800 years. I love the look of all those cakes. And licorice root? I’ve never seen that before xx

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella July 31, 2012 at 2:17 pm

I found Borough Markets so fascinating. And that picture of the fish with a fish in its mouth gave me a bit of a giggle too :P

lizzie - strayed from the table July 31, 2012 at 5:29 pm

The licorice root looks interesting, just reading the sign makes me want to instantly sniff it. Did you taste it?

Celia August 1, 2012 at 6:20 am

Wow! Look at that produce! The paella looks amazing, as does the fish. Nice to know a bit more about this place, having seen it so often on Jamie Oliver and other cooking shows. Thanks Amanda! :)

Maureen @ Orgasmic Chef August 2, 2012 at 4:16 pm

“waxed and waned over the last 800-900 years” makes me laugh. Both Australia and America have such short histories as a country that when I went to Europe the first time and slept in a hotel that had been continuously running for 600 years I was amazed. I was also the only one in our group who could walk through the bedroom door without ducking. :)

I’ve only been to this market once but great memories. Thanks for a lovely post!

cityhippyfarmgirl August 2, 2012 at 9:03 pm

All of those goodies look wonderful Amanda. I would love a leisurely wander through there… trying not to sniff the licorice root of course.

InTolerant Chef August 5, 2012 at 1:11 pm

I’ve always wanted to visit those amazing markets. Such history and such an amazing array of produce too!

Jamie August 5, 2012 at 9:48 pm

I only had the chance to visit once and I loved it. I would love to go back and spend more time, a longer time there and with significantly more money. Thanks for the brief history of the market – I am fascinated by the history of places like this. We tend to go to a market (or anywhere) and not even think that there could be an interesting history behind it. Now I want to read more about it. Love the pic of the Monkfish!

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