Meets writer Ed Smith, author of a new cookbook devoted to Borough Market
Borough Market is arguably the most famous food market in Britain. It sits in the belly of London Bridge, a network of railway arches and overhangs, full of winding pathways, with narrow roads to cross — hopefully without being squashed by delivery vans and crates of cheese — and the smell of baking bread and spices in the air.
Yes, it’s the oldest market in London — people have sold produce in one form or another there since the 12th century — but in a sense it is representative of any market you’d find in any town in Britain: there is food, lots of it, and the producers really know their stuff.
Most recently, Borough was in the news less for its multicoloured cauliflowers and artisan coffee, and more because of a terror attack on the area on June 3, 2017. A vehicle-ramming on London Bridge and a series of stabbings in nearby bars and restaurants in Borough saw eight people killed and almost 50 injured.
But food writer Ed Smith, author of the new Borough Market Cookbook, a celebration of the producers, stall holders and soul of the market, is clear that more than a year on it’s business as usual.
The book itself charts a year of shopping and cooking using Borough produce, but its core principles really revolve around seasonal eating, so you can apply the logic — and recipes — to what you find at your own local Sunday farmer’s market.
Trained chef and foodie Smith (36), who writes the blog Rocket & Squash, is a former lawyer turned food writer and trained chef.
Now, he’s something of a Borough Market expert and can often be spotted on-site doing cooking demos.
We sip on lattes and black coffee from The Colombian Coffee Company and wind our way between traders, nibbling as we go. Supermarkets are “so sanitised”, Smith explains. “You miss out on knowledge, care, expertise.”
Take Lizzie Vines, who runs Wild Beef with her husband, Richard, an organic Dartmoor farmer. They have a couple of their native Devon cattle and Welsh Blacks butchered every week, hang them for at least another three, and sell the whole animals — nose-to-tail — at Borough. “We’ve been here since the beginning,” explains Lizzie, who remembers setting up in 1998 when only the original giants of Borough in its current incarnation, Neal’s Yard Dairy and Spanish food importers Brindisa, were trading. “There was nowhere to buy coffee after the dawn drive up from Dartmoor,” she says — unless you count McDonald’s. Fortunately, that’s no longer the case. The practice