Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Borough Market

August 28, 2010 · 12 Comments

Leaving the Arran House, we decided to travel the Northern Line from Goodge Street to London Bridge. From there it was a quick walk across the street to Borough Market, which includes Jubilee, Green, and Middle Market. Borough Market can be found tucked behind the Southwark Cathedral.

Before we even fully entered the market, we were hit by a blast of smells. Borough Market is an upscale, artisanal food and foodstuffs market, featuring booths selling everything from specialty fromage, to fresh produce, seafood, wine and beer, and traditional and exotic meats– ostrich! The market was extremely crowded, with people walking through shoulder to shoulder. We were separated from each other at several points due to the shuffling throngs of people.

Due to the high-priced nature of the vendors, the patrons (minus tourists like us) visiting the market appeared to us to be of a higher socioeconomic class. Racially, they were fairly homogenous. Slight variations could be seen from booth to booth, depending on what was being sold. For example, Mikey was passive-aggressively asked to leave a wine booth as he was writing in his notebook, while the booths selling cider tended to cater to the less affluent.

There was almost every sort of food one could hope to find at a market, so in the blog we will just document some of the more surprising or delicious options.
The market as a whole was eco-conscious. Most meats and produce were organic/free-range, and packaging for products was often biodegradable. There were also many interesting and noteworthy foods that were available and that make Borough market worth the trip. At a sausage stand beef, wild boar, venison and ostrich were available (The ostrich, by the way, was delicious.)

At another stand a giant, sliced, puffball mushroom was available. Exotic and expensive fruits such as whole figs and pomegranates were available, and we passed a crepe stand offering fillings of the savory, spicy and sweet variety. Whole fish were for sale, along with squid, scallops and halibut.  We were intrigued by a stand vending elderflower cordial, though, as with most of the items of intrigue, it was pushing five quid for even a small drink. At a fine meat stand, there was a sign touting the benefits of the ostrich eggs they were selling- including the rather astounding fact that one ostrich egg is equivalent to twenty chicken eggs- as well as offering a kangaroo burger. We saw duck eggs and whole game mallards, whole hams and various wild boar meats. The upscale beer store was rather astounding as well.

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If anyone is looking for high-quality specialty foods, the Borough Market is the place. It is lively, expansive, and an a fun experience.

Categories: 2010 Michael · 2010 Rachel · 2010 Sarah
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12 responses so far ↓

  •   Young Dennis // Aug 28th 2010 at 16:58

    Other than the heinous prices, this sounds like exactly what I was hoping for out of market day. So many questions. Was an ostrich egg 20x more expensive than a standard chicken egg? What was the surrounding neighborhood like? Was this as awesome as it sounds on the blog?

  •   osterhoj // Aug 28th 2010 at 16:59

    Ostrich sausage? Awesome! It sounds like you got to go to a pretty amazing market. I heard a lot of people saying that they wished they had gotten your assignment instead. Maybe we should organize a trip there one of these days…

  •   maryc // Aug 28th 2010 at 17:49

    This market seems very different from the Covent Garden Market my group explored, where there was only one small produce stand. I wonder why the Borough Market is located where it is? Also, it’s really interesting that it caters to both people who appear more like tourists (i.e. Mikey at the cider stand) and those who are of the local community (i.e. Mikey at the wine stand). The fact there’s a market of exotic foods hidden in London is incredible–I’d love to visit!

  •   brownrac // Aug 28th 2010 at 18:04

    The location did seem strange to me. If we weren’t actively seeking it out, we would have easily walked right past it. It’s sort of hidden behind the Southwark Cathedral and some other large concrete structures I couldn’t identify. As you first approach, it looks very small, but then you wind your way in and it’s a pretty large area.

  •   Matthew Michrina // Aug 28th 2010 at 18:35

    I think it’s fascinating that Borough Market and Covent Garden cater to the same demographics (white, higher class, etc.) but they offer such different wares. The market that my group checked out (Walthamstow) was probably about as diverse food-wise as Borough Market, but it was also in a working and lower-middle class immigrant neighborhood. Seeing such a combination of high class neighborhood and diverse food seems to be rare in London.

  •   Karl // Aug 29th 2010 at 02:29

    Borough Market is in an area long known for foodstuffs (I’ll say more about this when I take you on a walking tour of the Southbank). That it has been reconstructed as a high-end, organicky, market speaks to the growing gentrification of what was once a less than salubrious part of London.

  •   Elizabeth Barr // Aug 29th 2010 at 02:46

    This sounds more like a Los Angeles farmers market than any of the others I’ve read about so far . . . swank!

  •   bowmanc // Aug 29th 2010 at 18:17

    We should definitely check this place out for cooking food for special occasions… Was there any indication from how far away the food came? (as in, were they primarily local farms around the Lond0n area, or all of Europe?)

  •   sarahb // Aug 29th 2010 at 19:43

    If you go to http://www.boroughmarket.org.uk/ the site will give you the history of the market. It’s definitely the place to be if you’re a chef.

  •   mikey // Aug 30th 2010 at 07:54

    Interesting question chris, nothing I saw indicated where the raw food was from, but I was not actively looking for that info.

  •   groverd // Aug 30th 2010 at 20:12

    It’s interesting that often, organic, ecofriendly foods are in fact from far far away. Not such a minimized carbon cost in the end. Scary to think how much of what we’re told about food is just advertising and artifice.

  •   mikey // Sep 2nd 2010 at 18:45

    God damnit daniel. But yeah, ‘organic’ often means 10% organic. And ‘free range’ means that the animals get released from their cage once a day.

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