I love markets–those tempting, impressive, generally open-air gatherings of vendors selling things they have grown, caught, made, or traded. Any country I visit, I’ll try to find a good market to explore. I’ve wandered through wonderful markets in dozens of countries, from bright, fragrant Mexican mercados to London’s venerable Borough Market to local farmers’ markets from Egypt to Ecuador, as well as the lovely though generally less bustling gatherings near home.
The title of the post, Night Markets, might conjure images of Asian after-dark markets — such as the Temple Street Night Market in Hong Kong or the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar in Thailand. Loved them both. But what I’m thinking of now is the markets that happen late at night/early in the morning and are geared toward supplying restaurants and grocery stores. Probably the most famous one I’ve visited is the astonishing Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo. But thanks to this video, I now have two new destinations next time I make it to the UK. Of course, this also makes me want to find out what might be happening closer to home–but I haven’t found those yet, so I’ll have to settle for the video. Hope you find this as fascinating as I did.
Fresh Produce at the Borough Market, Southwark
England’s food has roots that stretch back for millennia. As invading Romans marched toward London in AD 43, they found a thriving, well-established food market on the southern side of the Thames. It was called the Southwark Fair Market, and it became even more successful after the Romans built the first bridge across the river. By 1014, merchants from all over Europe were traveling to this market to trade. The market was acknowledged as an institution by 1276, and in 1754, the market at Southwark was officially recognized by Act of Parliament, with its 4.5 acres in Central London permanently safeguarded. Still vividly active today, the Borough Market in Southwark is a bustling culinary paradise packed with fabulous seafood, game, fruit, veggies, honey, jams, herbs, and myriad other delights. The crowds include not only knowledgeable shoppers stocking their private larders, but also restaurateurs in search of the freshest and best ingredients. And noshing at the 2,000-year-old marketplace can extend beyond the odd free sample, as many vendors sell snacks and even lunches, so you don’t have to choose between shopping and eating. Continue reading
I wonder sometimes why England has such a bad reputation for food. I’ve been going to England for decades, and I’ve only had one or two mediocre meals, and most of the time I’ve eaten splendidly. Sure, nowadays everyone points to the handful of famous venues that are popping up on “best restaurant lists.” Or people will say, “It’s because of the great ethnic eateries.” Yeah, England has those—big time. When I lived in England as a student, I relied heavily on the ethnic restaurants, though mostly because they were fun and cheap. But even before my university days, I’d already learned to love English food.
And what’s not to love? It’s an island, so fresh seafood is abundant and glorious. Even the French envy England’s rostbif. There is wonderful game and fabulous produce. And England has a glorious cheese heritage that dates back to the Roman Empire. To tell the truth, when I plan a trip to London, the food is one of the things I look forward to. Continue reading