Borough Market, London: A Foodie's Heaven

For me, the holidays are all about one thing: food. Sure, the presents are quite nice, and the glittery decorations certainly put a spirited spring in my step every year, but the prospect of delicious, home-cooked food far outweighs any other aspect of the festive season. The best part is, it really is one of the only times of the year where families take the time to cook a meal (no matter how simple or elaborate) and sit down together over food. 

I feel like nowadays, we are far too disconnected from what makes up our plates. Even for a fairly experienced home cook like me, I feel that I don't look at where my food is coming from as often as I should (as a student, I just tend to go for the cheapest price!). But a visit to a food market always reminds me that I feel so much better about what I'm eating when I know who produced it, where it comes from, and how it got there. 

This past weekend when I was in London, I had a chance to visit a market which I had been dying to go to for ages. Borough Market, conveniently located just off of the London Bridge tube station, takes local, sustainable, and mindful food shopping to a new level, with dozens of stands featuring all sorts of food products that each tell their own story.   

Weave your way through the stands- which look extra festive this time of year- and forget about the boredom-inducing hours you've spent scanning the same shelves at Tesco for weeks on end. Here, you'll find an interactive food experience that is truly a feast for the eyes. 

As a true cheese lover, this was my heaven. Nibbling on cheese I had never even heard of before, I was rendered speechless by a few of the samples.

But what's most important about any food market is its commitment to transparency. At Borough Market, small farmers are favored over the big box companies. You can be certain your cheese is in good hands with people like this!   

The produce itself is a masterpiece in its own right. These fresh tomatoes were as pretty as a painting, and were just asking for their portrait. 

You can even do a round of Christmas shopping at the market, best suited for the passionate foodie in your life of course! While olive oil might not seem like the flashiest gifts, a bottle of the good stuff is sure to be greatly appreciated by all the home cooks on your list. Stop by the Olive Oil Company to pick up your bottle. Or, just endlessly swirl bits of bread in the tasty olive oil samples. 

The hardest part is choosing when to stop browsing and just commit to a stall. Or you could just have a nibble at each one! I’m convinced you can salvage the contents of an entire meal from the free samples that the vendors dish out. Some might be laying out for you to grab at your own discretion, while other vendors are keen to lure you in by handing you a sample as you pass by.

After making sure I had thoroughly examined the contents of each stall, I was still torn between a few favorite dishes. Should I grab a box of pad thai from the stand that seemed to have the longest queue? Or would I be persuaded by the warm smells of the nearby soul food? Always the more decisive one, Ben took the lead on deciding our fate: pie and mash from Pieminister.

While pie and mash might seem a tad boring when you’re surrounded by stands selling all manner of cuisines from around the world, the prospect of a truly British lunch won out. But hear me out- these pies are by no means ones to look over. With a range of around 10 to 15 different types of pie, you really are spoiled for choice! It was another tough decision on a day full of gastronomic dilemmas, but my passion for chorizo made the choice a bit easier.

The Matador pie, filled to the brim with steak, chorizo, butterbeans, and green olives, was the perfect fusion between traditional British fare and bright Mediterranean flavors. With game pies being one of his go-tos, Ben chose the Santa Deer, which boasted a hefty portion of venison and smoked bacon with a red wine sauce. Whichever pie you choose, though, the flaky crust is truly the star of the show. Whether you decide to cut into it with a fork and knife, or tackle it hands-on, you’re in for a real lunchtime treat.

I think it’s also important to mention the incredible value of the pies at Pieminister. With each pie on its own costing £4 and a side of mash going for £1, you’re able to have your fill for a mere fiver.  A drizzling of gravy will cost an extra 50p if you’re feeling really fancy, but it’s not totally necessary as the pies are plenty moist as is. 

To wash down these rich pies, we headed to a place we had spotted earlier, New Forest Cider for, you guessed it, a warm cup of mulled cider. Mulled wine has long been the star of many Christmas meals, but mulled cider is currently having a moment. Hop on the trendy train and let this mix of fruity cider, strong liquor, and aromatic spices warm you right to your core.  

We also had a browse of their extensive cider collection. I'll take one of each please!

And there's me, happy as a clam because I know I'm supporting small, local, sustainable, businesses. Whether it's a venue as big as Borough Market, or just a simple farmers market set up in your local park, take this festive period to support your local food suppliers. It's truly the best thing you can do for your economy, your environment, and yourself. Plus, it's a whole lotta fun! 

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