One of the most exciting parts of traveling is eating. Exposing onself to local food culture provides a great opportunity to meet people and see how they truly live. In my experience, people are most excited, vibrant and natural around a full dinner table. Lucky to have a friend who knows the ins and outs of London, I made my way, upon Declan’s recommendation, to the one spot tucked away in the heart of London where locals go to eat – Bourough market. After getting off the tube at London Bridge and admiring the Shard, a recent addition to London’s skyline and Europe’s tallest building, I started the search that would appease my curiosity, as well as my hunger. After much wandering and no success, I figured Bourough market must truly be tucked away in a tiny corner. As I was about to ask for directions, I finally found what I was looking for, but not what I was expecting. This incredible paradise, exceptionally integrated into the formal, busy streets of central London, seemed to have no end. One of the largest food markets in the city, Bourough market also happens to be one of the oldest, as its location has housed some form of market since 1100 A.D. I entered through the Eastern side, which was predominantly occupied by fruit and vegetable vendors. Then, as I realized the market kept branching out, more and more vendors began to appear, offering an endless variety of produce ranging from freshly baked bread and focaccia to black pudding and paella.
I spent about three hours roaming around in awe and excitement. The first hour was spent purely wandering, photographing the assortment of colors and enjoying the irresistible blending of aromas, a byproduct of the meats, curies, spreads, spices and much much more. The second hour was spent somewhat retracing my steps and trying to determine what to try. However, as I found something that looked appetizing, someone would pass with something that looked even better, and the search would continue in an endless cycle of hungry pursuit. Finally, during the third hour I decided I would forget my budget and eat everything, and so began the gorging spree. Once completely full, but not quite satisfied with my performance, I decided to come back another day and fill in the gaps. To top it all off, I made my way to a popular coffee shop on the opposite end of the market from where I entered, which Declan swore by as the second best coffee in London. The coffee was as impressive as the design of the coffee shop’s interior. There are constantly long queues, but the wait is worth it, presenting the opportunity to also admire the tiny shop with one long table containing a selection of jams and bread for those who choose to have their coffee in house. Even the smell coming from the coffee beans being weighed in old fashioned, golden scales near the entrance is enough distraction. This must have been one of my most memorable excursions in London, and I left wishing there were markets this impressive back home, but also excited for all of the other food markets awaiting me over the next 14 months.