Europe's best markets
The second stop of our trip couldn’t have taken us farther—at least metaphorically speaking—from our first stop in peachy Provence. It’s one of the few places in the world I can forgive for being drizzly and overcast: London.
So where are we this time around? It’s one of my favorite cities to get lost in, a truly international feasting ground – I’m pretty sure you could spin the globe of cuisines and, wherever you’ve landed, you’d find it in this city. Specifically, we’re at the city’s oldest market, Borough Market, a trading ground with about 1,000 years of history behind it. Maybe you’ve been lucky enough to have threaded through the maze of stalls nestled into the railway arches as trains stutter overhead, grabbed yourself a donut oozing with custard, and thought about ticking fish and chips off your list. Or maybe you’ve never heard of Borough Market—if so, that’s about to change!
In reflection of London itself, Borough Market is a bustling cornucopia of food and groceries from around the world. Back in the ‘90s, when the market morphed from a wholesale to a retail market open to the public. Some of the traders stayed behind, meaning market goers had the chance to access the wideranging, restaurant-grade variety of produce both local and sourced abroad.
As you’ll see in the video, this rich offering continues today and includes fresh produce from slowgrown heritage-breed butchery, Calabrian-brined tomatoes, London-fermented hot sauces, English feta-style cheese, and all manner of things ready to be scoffed immediately: donuts with daily-changing fillings, Cypriot goat kofte, and stringy grilled cheese sandwiches with golden exteriors that will fill your ears with 'crunch'.
A market with a
Like all markets, Borough Market is a place to get inspiration, ask questions, and learn where your food comes from. But, beyond this, it's setting the bar for what an inner-city marketplace can look like today, with its educational initiatives and by tackling the pressing environmental issues the food industry faces. Most of the stalls are Slow-Food accredited, it's a plastic-water-bottle-free-zone, coffee grounds are sent off to be made into biofuel, surplus produce is donated to charities, and its features an education program on show in its demo kitchen.
I left Borough market feeling (even) more inspired to put my money where my mouth is and shop as close to the source as I can: for me, this means reducing my use of single-use packaging, buying seasonal vegetables, and seeking out imported ingredients from independent traders who have sourced the products themselves.