When I was in England, Elsie and I took a trip to London. While in London, we spent a significant amount of our time at the Borough Market. We ate both of our lunches there and spent a few our afternoon hours browsing around its crowded stands. We decided to go to the market because Holly, Elsie’s roommate, told us we could get a pretty cheap lunch there. Then, the night before we left for England, I read about it on someone’s blog. We decided it was a “must-do” while we were in London. It’s a good thing we did.
The Borough Market is a serious historical landmark in London. According to the website, food markets have existed in Borough since 1014. That’s a really long time. And the market is a beautiful, delicious food festival on steroids. The standards are rigorous:
The market ensures high standards of produce by employing a food quality panel of impartial experts who ensure that the taste, provenance and quality of foods sold here are all regularly measured and maintained and we support small traders to meet these standards.
Arguably the best part of the market is that you can taste almost anything for free. In Holly’s mind, this meant we could practically eat lunch for free. Elsie and I however saw ourselves as the food quality panel of impartial experts mentioned above. We tasted everything, and then we bought what we liked–two days in a row. We left London with two Borough Market shopping bags in tow.
I loved walking around the market. I felt, once again, like I’d been training my whole life to be where I was. I spent the summer loving every part of the Holland Farmer’s Market. This was kind of like that, but it gave me so much more to look at, to taste, to listen to. There were people everywhere, talking about sausage and cheese and olives and oysters and turkish delight and all sorts of wonderful things. We even saw a shop selling “exotic meats.” The special was a kangaroo burger. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the kangaroo burgers, but I knew exactly how I felt about everything else. I wanted to try it all. We made our best effort. We tried the organic ice cream and the various aged comté cheeses and the garlic stuffed olives and the venison jerky and the oysters. We drank mulled wine and mulled cider and tried to use all of our taste buds.
Being at the market reminded me how much I don’t know about food. I love to cook and I love to eat and I’m living in one of the best places in the world to do those things. I felt like I’d gotten a little lax with my eating lately. I’d fallen into habits I didn’t love. I’d been spending my money on food I wasn’t dying to eat.
Though the Borough Market only exists in one place in the world, markets like it exist all over the place. So do people who love food and drink as much as the ones I met in London. The challenge, as my market visit reminded me, is to seek those people and that food out, to not settle for something made or grown with anything less than it deserves.
I felt so reenergised with a love for food when I came back to France. I’ve spent the past week thinking about what my mind and body need from my food. Those are the things I choose to eat. I’m surrounded by wonderful choices in this place. It’s like a Borough Market spread out wide. Now, as my host mother often reminds me, I get to profiter.