London's Borough Market

Writing: Tanya El Kashef

Travel Experience and Photographs: Aisha Alshabrawy

Turning this month’s focus to a major culinary capital, Borough Market in Southwark, Central London remarkably dates back to the 13th century (if not before), when it initially functioned as a wholesale market. Today, the market stands as one of the cities’ largest, most reputable culinary destinations and a great place for a foodie to spend an afternoon.

Historically rich, over the years the market has seen more than one location and its current site, near London Bridge, is quite curious and the design endearing. The first part of the market upon entering caters to breakfast, lunch and brunch goers with an endless variety of freshly prepared meals. Being there on a sunny day, the massive food hall was festive and was fluttering of activity. 

Organized and efficient, the rows of stalls offer a medley of cuisines and cooking stations; from Egyptian koshary, Indian and Chinese cuisine; to vegetarian menus, healthy choices and countless sandwich options. Not to mention the choices of ice cream and desserts like baklava, pudding and pies. There are also all kinds of sweets, caramels and even a cookie of the hour. The diversity of options and flavors is no less than outstanding. 

After two hours of being immersed in this heavenly galore of a food market – that happens to offer free samples – the second part then revealed itself as a pleasant, but nonetheless, big surprise. Stocked with raw and basic ingredients, the sizable ‘supermarket’ area per se, carries fruit, vegetables, rare-breed meats, fish, cheese, freshly baked breads, herbs, as well as fresh flowers. Specialty teas, oils, preserves and condiments are also readily available – the latter of which proved to be the most memorable.

A gourmet food stand that belonged to a French lady instantly caught our eye, which had among caviar and fois gras, a palette of mustards in yellows, browns, reds and all that’s in between. Infused with herbs or dyed in beetroot, the extensive collection was a delightful discovery and ultimately a highlight of our visit.

Over its many years in business, Borough Market has evolved from a solely wholesale market into something far more dynamic; encompassing a specialized supermarket, a quick lunch/brunch stop, as well as a family weekend destination.  With bars and a lively neighborhood just around the corner, the market experience itself has become just as diverse as the food items it serves.