The world is wide, and we want to see (and eat) all of it. We've partnered with VisitBritain to take a closer look at the foods, producers, restaurants, and regions that make Great Britain a top destination for food-loving travelers.
Of all the food markets in the world, a handful stand out as must-see, can't-miss, travel-worthy spots. And of all the great markets in Great Britain, Borough Market is the crown jewel. In operation for over 1,000 years, Borough Market has evolved from a wholesale market to a vibrant showcase of the best food products in Britain—and the wider world.
Darren Henaghan, the Managing Director of Borough Market, took us on an insider's tour of the Market and explained its history. He understands the Market's current state as a reflection of the past—and of the place. "Borough Market has been either on this site or very close to it for 1000 years now," he says. The reason? Vendors could avoid paying taxes on their goods if they stayed on the Market-side of the London Bridge...which brought in vendors from across the globe. Because of this, "We area a very international place," Henaghan says. "This isn't a local farmers' market—we've got food from all around the world."
The highlight of Borough Market is the local UK products: Farmstead cheeses from East Sussex and Wales; scallops from Dorset, oysters from Mersea Island, Essex, and smoked fish from Stepney; Galloway beef (one of the oldest native UK breeds) from Cumbria, salt marsh lamb from Wales, even ostrich from Nottinghamshire!
There are vine-ripened tomatoes from Isle of Wight, globe artichokes from Lincolnshire, blueberries from South Nunhead, and walnuts from Kent. Vendors sell local honey, handmade organic breakfast cereals, seasonal flowers, and artisanal breads, pastries, and confections.
The international offerings are equally enticing. There's the Exquisite Deli, selling Alpine charcuterie from South Tyrol; Bianca e Mora, a shop with specialities from Italy's Emilia Romagna; Spanish food importers, Brindisa; De la Grenade, which sells spices, preserves, and condiments from Grenada; Greenfield Farm Organic Life, offering teas grown on a single estate in Sri Lanka; Calabrian licorice at Sweet Roots; and street food vendors from Ethiopia to India, Thailand to Egypt, Argentina to Italy.
"Borough Market... has always been one of the best examples in the world of not just good produce, but of culture and a growing, sustainable economy," said Carlo Petrini, the founder of Slow Food. The Market embraces this designation: many of the vendors have been officially accredited by Slow Food UK, and a large number of the products sold at Borough Market have been included in the Ark of Taste, an international register of heritage foods from around the world facing extinction. To further ensure the highest quality, all the vendors at the Market are vetted by an independent committee of chefs from restaurants with at least one Michelin star. From meat and seafood to dairy and dry goods, Borough Market is doing its part to maintain Great Britain's legacy foods and culinary traditions.
"I've got one of the best jobs in the world because I look after this wonderful place," says Henaghan. We'd have to agree.
We've partnered with VisitBritain to take a closer look at the foods, producers, restaurants, and regions that make Great Britain a top destination for food-loving travelers. Follow along on Instagram to see what's going on across the pond at @lovegreatbritain and what Great Britain is eating at @greatbritishfood.