There are hundreds of museums and thousands of restaurants in London. But to get a true taste of London, go to Borough Market. Touted as the largest food market in the world and present since the 13th century, it is a cacophony of sights and sounds that cannot be far off from medieval. The market is tucked away around the corner from London Bridge tube station and for all its rambling size, could be easily missed.Stepping into the market is an immediate assault on my senses. The crush of people, the shouted sales pitches, the offers of tasters and the maze of choice and colour all combine to leave me feeling simultaneously overwhelmed and delighted. In fact, it reminds me of being on a roller coaster but one made of moving, tugging, pulling people. Clutching my bag tightly, I let the human wave steer me to a store selling everything French. I’m intrigued by the cans of goose fat which jostle with bunches of lavender for attention. Next is the beer store with far-flung brews. Across the way I spy a butcher with everything from English pork pies to South African boerewors. In front looms three massive dishes, big enough to bathe in, filled with cooking Thai curries and paella. Cutting across the masses to the fresh vegetable section, I am soon “oooohing and ahhing” over the crisp colours and strange varieties that bring the famous chefs here. I’m soon distracted though by the stall selling organic smoothies, including one for hangovers. On the move again, I am tempted by the freshly grilled ostrich fillet on a baguette but resist to see what other treasures await me round corner.Across the road and under the rail bridge is a sea of yellow umbrellas offering yet more delicious troves. Every second stall seems to be offering cheeses from the soft to the stinky. I pass real sausages in their pale wrinkly skins, barrels filled with olives like gleaming nuggets, and home-made chocolate with novel ingredients such as chilli, ginger and vodka. I decline the fresh oysters and Tabasco but look longingly at the homemade halloumi burgers served in a cabbage leaf. In front, ensconced by all the noisy chaos, is Southwark Cathedral. I gather my purchases of fresh bread, tarty tapenade, pork pie and sticky baklava and join the crowds for a picnic on the church grounds. Feeling refreshed and satisfied for having survived this gastronomical adventure, I wander down some side streets imagining the spice traders of old. And yes, low and behold…. there are yet more undiscovered parts of the market! By now my eyes are glazing over at seeing yet more cheese, meat and olives for sale. However, the homemade muesli bars peak my interest, as does the chilli and tortilla making kits. With little bits of the whole world in my bags, I am now totally spent, in more ways than one. Do I go to the Monmouth café for a coffee or for a pint at one of the million little pubs around? Yes, this is definitely a true taste of London– spoilt for choice. In fact, it’s a world of choice.
**This short Travel Story was submitted as part of the Holiday Travel Writing Competition.
Story written by Kelly Gunnell