Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Market day

Yesterday was a day to cram in as many outdoor activities as possible before the forecast cold and snowy snap. So, pausing only for a £6 quickie from a nice Australian lady in a Soho shopfront (that's a haircut, Ms Scarlet, a haircut), I took my camera to Borough Market.

Squeezed in under the railway tracks beside London Bridge and Southwark Cathedral, and straggling out to meet the South Bank attractions like Vinopolis, this is a wholemeal fruit and vegetable market most of the week (this is, after all, where all the roads from the market garden areas to the south of London have converged for centuries). But on Fridays and Saturdays, it's heaven for would-be foodies and the merely gluttonous alike.

As well as all the usual things you'd expect in a food market, there are specialist food shops and restaurants in the streets around (one such street, vanishing gloomily under the railway track, has served as a period set for many a film and TV series). A visiting Australian friend of a friend was missing his co-workers' Wednesday cake club - so we came here so that he could at least email them a photo of the cakes in Konditor and Cook's window.

In and around the market building itself, there are stalls and stalls of foods, breads, cakes, sweets, cheeses, meats, fish, oysters from Cornwall and Essex, Cumberland ham, foods from "Hadrian's Wall country", and of course (this is London, after all) from all around the Mediterranean and further afield - a huge pot of Thai green curry rubbing shoulders with specialities from Italian monks, a huge queue outside the Spanish delicatessen, Greek, Arab, Indian.

Also very London is the self-consciousness of so much of the presentation ("Yummy yummy mushroom pâté", anyone? And do food markets in, say, France, badge products for a tourist board's brand?). There may well be shoppers stocking up, but most people seem to be here to taste, snack, graze or (like me) just gawp.

But a cold wind was getting up; being a bit nesh and anxious to rescue the perishing, I stayed just long enough to collect these impressions of the scene:
video

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