The privilege of living near a food market

A social hub for foodies where more than food is on offer

I feel pretty privileged to live really close to a real food market. It’s the famous Borough Market just by London Bridge. I was there this morning – again.

It sits beneath railway arches and bridges and on the north side is is towered over by the the stunningly beautiful Southwark Cathedral where people have come to worship for centuries.

Somehow this setting seems pretty apt as people from all over the world are making the pilgrimage to The Borough to explore and to buy and eat real food of the highest quality.

There is everything you would expect in the market.

Fresh and cooked meats, organic wines and craft beers, cheeses, vegetables, fish, breads and a huge range of herbs and spices from farms and producers who really care about their produce. They are all here and the quality of it all just shines through.

As well as being able to buy great food here there are also some great restaurants although speaking for myself I tend to prefer to eat something from the many market stalls where great food is being cooked to take away.

This is probably the closest we come in the UK to street food and I love it. For freshness, variety and sociability I just don’t think it can be beat. It always cheers me to see someone preparing food right in front of me while I queue and chat with other hungry market-goers.

As is true of most markets there is so much more to Borough Market than just the food.

It is a great place to come for a drink with some great pubs to choose from all around the edge of the market and down to the Thames.

The sociability which always seems to accompany food is also here in abundance. People watchers, photographers, coffee lovers looking for their favourite grind and committed foodies looking to improve their baking at the incredibly popular Bread Ahead bakery school.

Wherever in the world I have been where there have been food markets, from Barcelona’s famous Boqueria Market , the Marches Mouffetard and Bastille in Paris and the many throughout Asia I see happy people. I always try to get along when I am abroad. Other countries seem to have preserved more of their markets and local food production somehow than we have in the UK and are to be commended for doing so.

In markets I love seeing shoppers asking questions and haggling with producers and vendors who love talking about their produce. People happily sampling before selecting from the great food on offer.

My camera is often with me and I always smile when I see others with their cameras capturing what is going on as we all seem to love food photographs somehow. Friends and families drink real coffee in unique, independent coffee shops as opposed to the huge bland frothy chain version.

All in all I reckon there is a lot to be said for a food market. I appreciate I am lucky in that I live near a great one but for variety, social interaction or just to go and read a good book over some java I would urge you to seek one out if you can. Take the camera, take a book, meet some friends and shop for the freshest and best ingredients for your favourite recipe. Browse and buy something unfamiliar, explore new tastes or just talk food with someone likeminded.

Skip the supermarket for once, cut down on the food miles and the processed food, drink a real cup of coffee or just sit and watch the people go by. Support smaller producers and artisans who care more about produce than profits. Visit your local food or farmers market and while away some time either alone or with friends. Get behind and join those who really care about real food, they really do need you to care too.

Go on, I am sure you won’t regret it.

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