Last updated: 09:30 AM ET, Mon January 04 2016

Opinion Home | The Main Course

  • Gabe Zaldivar | January 4, 2016 9:30 AM ET

    6 Tips for Proper Taste Testing At London's Bustling Borough Market

    6 Tips for Proper Taste Testing At London's Bustling Borough Market

    Images via Gabe Zaldivar

    Until I figure out a way to skirt physics and actually hug an entire city, visiting its street vendors and various food markets will have to do.

    My favorite market, by far, was introduced to me earlier this year with a long overdue trip to London with the wife. That’s where I met Borough Market.

    Because 2015 has been the wonderful kind of year you remember for a lifetime, I was re-introduced later in the year thanks to a press trip to the Hilton London Bankside.

    It really was like seeing an old friend unexpectedly.

    And this is how I’ve come to see the market, which is open-air but unequivocally warm and enticing to all comers.

    Around in some form since the 11th century, you can safely say the market is a London institution.

    From my vantage, it’s a must-see, must-experience and must-devour attraction in London.

    Here are my tips to coming away from this food haven smiling.

    Window Shop First:

    Borough Market is hardly massive.

    It’s indeed large, but walking its expanse is but the work of a few minutes. This doesn’t mean it’s not the least bit overwhelming, because myriad food choices are crammed into this heart of the city like a turkey brimming with dressing.

    Take a few laps before you dive and spend coin on a loaf of bread or salt beef sandwich. Stretch the legs before you make choices that will have you wavering from a very full belly rather shortly.

    Taste Test:

    This particular market boasts a few fishmongers, which have fish begging to be whisked back home and grilled or poached.

    But they also have more immediate fare like cockles, oysters or scallops that are delicious raw.


    Back at home, we are used to our role as anonymous shopper. We enter the grocery store and leave without ever uttering a word.

    Here is the perfect place to rid yourself of such a diabolical habit, because you can learn so much from the very people who care deeply about their respective craft.

    Open your ears and you will hear locals going back and forth with butchers on particular cuts or with mongers about the fresh fish of the day.

    My own little revelatory chat was with a woman who introduced me to some rather delicious and extremely powerful cold brewed coffee that was then mulled. It powered me well onto the next day.


    It’s not often I would condone or recommend taking a giant whiff in the middle of a major city.

    However, there are so many intoxicating smells in this market that you simply have to allow all of your senses to remember the trip fondly.

    Ethiopian fare begins wafting pleasantly over the crowd, mingling with the scent of coffee, grilled meats and so many other delicacies from all over the globe. It’s mesmerizing.

    Disregard this tip when next to fish stands or any trashcans for obvious reasons.

    Visit Early:

    I found that a great many items that you can buy at the market fit perfectly in a backpack and keep all day, making this the perfect place to stock up for a long day of touristy business.

    The Specifics:

    Borough Market is spitting distance from London Bridge Underground Station. And with a full complement of the market and not nearly the rush of the weekend crowd; Thursdays may be the best day to enjoy the area.

    And with that, you are ready to dive into one of the best food markets in the world in my estimation.

    The best part about places like Borough is that what’s on the menu really just depends on where those walking shoes of yours take you.

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Gabe Zaldivar The Main Course

Gabe Zaldivar Born on the rough streets of suburban West Covina, I learned a great many things, some of which has proved useful: knowing the tell-tale sounds of an ice cream truck and crafting a world-class burrito come to mind. You have seen my work on Bleacher Report and possibly my mug on CNN. Perhaps, if you are into archaic modes of entertainment, you have also heard me on the radio. Pop culture is my beat. If it has to do with the intersection of travel, entertainment and pop culture, I'm your guy.
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