If you like food, then you can’t not like Borough Market, London’s temple to gastronomy underneath the railway lines leading into London Bridge Station. Wandering among its stalls you can find some outstanding produce from not just around Britain but also France, Italy, Turkey, and many other countries. This is the world on a plate.
And, if all of this makes you hungry, you can stop off at one of the many stalls selling everything from venison burgers to paella and Thai curry to Ethiopian street food.
And this is the problem. Often the quality of what’s being offered is pretty mediocre – and very expensive.
Yesterday I bought a salt beef sandwich, which consisted of a scoop of salt beef, a gherkin, and a splash of mustard placed between two pieces of bread. And, boy, was it salty! And the bread was incredibly bland and instantly forgettable. When you are paying £6.50 you expect to be eating top class salt beef, not the kind of stuff that this stall was serving up.
In fact, this was the sixth time this year I’ve bought a takeaway from a stall at Borough Market and afterwards felt distinctly underwhelmed – and much lighter in my pocket.
Borough Market has become a huge success in the last ten years or so, attracting not just foodie Londoners but also many tourists. Because of the crowds that turn up, it means that there is good money to be made.
And this, I suspect, is the reason why so much of the food being cooked on the stalls doesn’t have the “Wow!” factor. People more interested in quick profits than providing a great food experience have cashed in, just like they do wherever you have vast numbers of people. They might have signs on their stall telling you that this is “authentic”, “the best”, “delicious” or whatever, but it’s more likely to be nothing more than hype.
So I will continue to visit Borough Market to marvel at the incredible produce on offer. But I think I’ll give its takeaway stalls a skip.