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Markets of the World: Borough Market

Borough Market London

Photo by Alun Callender

Fruit and veggies at The Ginger Pig in Borough Market.

Locale: 8 Southwark St., Tel: 44 (0) 20 7407 1002

History: A market has stood in the place where Borough Market stands today for more than 1,000 years. That’s a nice run. For the past two centuries, it has been mostly a wholesale fruit and vegetable market. While most revenue is still generated from wholesalers, the market’s board of trustees made a move to renew and revitalize the market in the mid-’90s. Since then, Borough Market has grown from London’s “best kept secret” to “the best market in Britain” (according to The Observer Food Monthly magazine). And the produce is just the tip of the iceberg these days.

Born in the U.K.: With a reputation for being boiled, bland and boring, British food has never been highly touted by the international food community. Borough Market is a product of a relatively new movement embracing farm-fresh, local foods and bold flavors. Within its walls, you’ll find loads of ancient species of apples, some of which I had never seen or heard of before; freshwater char and eel; eggs from laying hens and, of course, plenty of cheese and lamb. The selection of game is mind-boggling, and I think early fall is my favorite time of year here. Chatting up a merchant selling his own venison, wild hare or one of dozens of game birds can be the richest experience of your trip. Sausages of all types are sold here, and many vendors set up small grills and roasters to take advantage of your hunger pangs. You can eat a great meal by just sampling your way around BM’s alleyways.

No kitchen?: BM offers phenomenal produce, fish and meats, but obviously most travelers don’t have access to a kitchen. You can still enjoy the market’s freshest offerings. Roast, one of my favorite restaurants in the world, is located within the market itself. This upscale spot is dedicated to reviving the best of British cooking. Think imaginative takes on traditional dishes, such as roast grouse with bread sauce, game chips and quince jelly. If you’re looking for more casual pub fare, check out Stoney Street Café for some of the best bangers in the city.

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