For the past two weeks Olivia Cox has been interning with us at Story. Here she recounts her introduction to Borough Market and, more importantly, the emphasis on food provenance that each and every market trader relays.
Story’s office is on Bermondsey Street, a part of London I don’t really know. So, I thought I’d explore the area and lose myself in Borough Market – a foodie’s haven. Being a university student in Newcastle, my food shopping excursions are pretty limited both in terms of budget, proximity and choice. Having visited Grainger Market located in the heart of Newcastle over the years, I have gradually started to broaden my repertoire of shopping, however I haven’t been particularly inspired by the type of produce found there.
As I wandered in I was almost taken back in time to my childhood experience of visiting my first sweet shop – it all looks so good you don’t know where to start! I immediately realised why this special place has gained such a reputation amongst restaurateurs, foodies and even tourists. What struck me was the wonderful ambiance, the traditional layout of the market with approachable stalls and kiosks, and the huge diversity of produce on display.
Having indulged in a number of delicious samples from various stalls, I suddenly regretted consuming my rather plain sandwich at my desk before I left. The quality of the produce was extremely high but what fascinated me the most was the emphasis that all the traders placed on provenance, and the difference that this often made to the product. It was clear to me that the premium prices that are charged are justified by some of the benefits that the owners could demonstrate from having produced something that was more special than regular supermarket brands. But what I suppose was most interesting to me was the stories behind these products. You only had to chat to the stall holders for a few minutes to find out some of their fascinating facts about how and where their products were made, and how many were family businesses with a real passion for what they do.
The Belazu stall caught my eye because I absolutely love olives, and there were certainly a wide variety on sale! They seemed to be a classic example of the type of business that would do well in a place like Borough Market. Run by two good friends George and Adam, Belazu personally source their ingredients from small artisanal suppliers throughout the Mediterranean and North Africa using zero artificial flavours, colours or preservatives to retain their natural goodness and flavour. They are just one of many stalls at Borough Market that are passionate about what they do.
When I got back to the office, it suddenly dawned on me that so many young people possibly believe that most food comes pre-packaged, and often processed from a supermarket. Yet if only they had more awareness of the existence of healthier, premium food items then their consumption habits may change for the better as they get older. As I was browsing through the Borough Market website, I was really pleased to see that chef Hayley Edwards was hosting a ‘Schools Out’ in the Demonstration Kitchen on the 24th July to run through the methods and techniques required to make some lovely dishes for youngsters to easily reproduce at home. I really believe great events like this can get kids inspired and educated about the importance of eating well, so definitely pop down to Market Hall between 12-2pm if you fancy an afternoon of top tips, delicious recipes and tasters.
So this brief lunchtime visit really proved to be a food epiphany for me, and I’m now looking at the daily recipes they put on the website to get inspiration for my next meal.
On another note, if you’re feeling adventurous this month be sure to check out The Bingham restaurant in Richmond where you can choose a ‘mystery menu’, specially created by the chef for you to encourage you to nudge away from your usual choices. Go on, I dare you!