wintertime markets: for the skeptic in all of us

The loveliest part about winter in Britain is that it’s completely acceptable - and even encouraged - to be melodramatic about the weather. If it’s below zero or raining, you can whine and complain and take the tube for two minutes instead of walking for five. The lack of central heating does pose a problem but the close proximity to warm, thickly carpeted pubs distracts from all that. As a Canadian with absolutely no tolerance for the cold, I’m cold — but sufficiently placated.

he end of November is nearing and I’ve found myself frequenting an outdoor market as many weekends as my oddly scheduled life will allow. In no particular order, here are a few of the reasons I’d brave Borough Market to the bitter and twisted end (or -5 degrees Celsius): 

1. The Spice Market

A funny little shop with velvety purple walls and wooden shelves jampacked with tin spice canisters. From the moment you step over the threshold - no doorways at Borough Market - you’re enveloped in body heat and spice fumes. Little bowls of olive oil litter display tables, encouraging - no, beseeching - you to grab a piece of doughy bread and sop up that tikka masala sample. I grew up eating aloo ghobi with my mum and sister in front of the telly so I find this place comforting in a way I can’t quite explain.

2. Chorizo, Salami and Venison

 I admit to being slightly cowed (ha) by the cheese kiosk samples - the vendors watch you much too closely and I always feel obligated to pretend I have enough money for a 15 quid wheel of Camembert. And that’s where the meat people come in. I’ll admit that I’d choose a can of chickpeas over a steak nine times out of ten, but the meat people are downright free-wheeling with their samples and they throw in some decent conversation while they’re at it. I don’t know if it’s the mix & match deals or the hats with flaps but I’m a meat eater at the market. 

3. Linseed

Gluten free. Good for the digestion. Accepts card payment… ALWAYS? Is this a haiku yet? 

4. Mulled Wine

On a crisp Saturday at Borough Market, you’ll find friends and families and second dates huddled around tall wooden crates with warm takeaway cups of mulled wine or cold plastic flutes of champagne. The mulled wine is delicious and heats you up right at your core, but my favourite bit about all of it is the thick steam which floats upwards off the shiny vats of liquid fire, wraps itself around the metallic green beams of the Borough Market warehouse, and settles in for nightfall. At about 4:30 pm, if you were wondering.

5. Fruit and Veg

My search for decent produce comes to an end at Borough Market. Charlotte dies a happy lady, eating cooking apples and bruised pears because they’re cheapest and more than edible. Over and out.