By far the best Christmas prezzie I’ve gotten is the trip down to Borough Market, in Southwark (pronounced, “Suthick” in case you were wondering), which is right next to the Thames (which is pronounced “Temmes,” in case you were wondering. I mispronounced this until practically my 20s. Because although it said “Thames” on all the BBC productions I watched on public TV as a kid, nobody ever pronounced it.).
I’m a fan of farmer’s markets anywhere, but for some reason I wasn’t expecting to visit one on a trip made mostly to visit relatives. My brother-in-law mentioned it in passing, because it was near the Tate Modern, and a small museum called “The Clink,” which described the torture and imprisonment of various miscreants in the prison of the same name. The boy would surely love that, he said. “Oh, and there’s a lovely food market down there. You might like it.”
Typical Anglo-Saxon understatement. I’m told that there’s been a market here since the 13th century, so I was surprised to find it so, well, upscale. Huddled underneath high rafters and the constant rattle of an above-ground train, there were artisanal butchers and organic produce, and homemade Turkish Delight and people making olive oil soaps.
After falling on a box of fish and chips (they’re not allowed to serve them in newspapers anymore, alas), we went through a small alley and came upon the proper marketplace. Everyone went on ahead while I stood and gawped. That’s when the samples started.
Turkish delight. Baklava, olives, cheese…..All right! Bag it all up and ship it home, please!
Ever corner revealed another vendor with another jaw-dropping ware. I was still chewing my rose-flavored Turkish Delight when I came upon the French pastry vendor and almost ran into a pile of giant meringues…
And cheese. Oh God, the cheese…
I was relying on the lovely ex’s iPhone camera, and otherwise I would have spent another hour roaming and taking photos. I had to find the family, though. They were inside this building:
Maybe it was the brisk weather, or the Welshman brewing it up from his kiosk, or his Anglo-Chinese co-worker with the charming smile, but this was probably the best cup of coffee I’ve had in years. Creamy and rich and hitting just the perfect spot. I regret to say I did not get a picture of it. By this time, our hands were full.