Imagine is a Saturday morning and you don´t have anything for breakfast/brunch in your kitchen. You are tired of canned soups, pastas and sandwiches so the supermarket in the corner is not an option. Luckily, you live in London and where to eat is never a problem (unless your tube line is not working that weekend).
London have many option to choose from and one of the best is the Borough Market. Located at the south of London Bridge, this market is probably the most famous one in London. It is fully open from Thursday to Saturday and they have one of the most interesting food offers of the city. We know this market existed before 1276 although not in the same street where it stands know. In 1550, Kind Edward VI tried to control the growing markets in the Southwark but the measures taken caused much more trouble and chaos in the city that the disorder the markets originally provoked. For that reason, in 1756 the Borough market was moved to its present location although the building we now know was built in 1851. It was refurbished in 2001 parts of the old Covent Garden Market were added.
But the Borough Market is not only the place to buy prepared food as falafel or a really French raclettea it is also the place where you will find the best ingredients Britain has to offer. From purple potatoes to all the varieties of tomatoes it is the best option to go if you are thinking in preparing a fancy dinner. Also, all kinds of exotic food are available from dry chillies to alligator meat and the best olive oil in the country. Don´t forget to cross the street and drink an espresso in the overcrowded famous coffee shop in front. I promise you is worth it.
But don´t go every Saturday, your wallet will suffer and you will end up buying incredible expensive and common tea. The Borough Market is a treat that you cannot miss and is worth to keep it for special occasions.
If you are walking from the Strand Campus to the Maughan Library you will probably find a little tea shop from a very famous brand. Don´t think it twice, give tea a chance and enjoy a free “cuppa” tea and smell all the variety of teas they have in the shop.
You may be used to drink coffee instead of tea but I assure you, there is nothing more British than tea. You can have tea any time you want in the day, even before going to sleep, and definitely you cannot miss going to a fancy hotel for an “afternoon tea”. Yes is expensive but you don´t have to do it every week!
Tea has been the nation drink of Great Britain since the seventeenth century, when it was popularized by the Portuguese wife of Charles II, Catherine of Braganza. Tea was brought to London by the East India Company and became so popular that it was highly taxed provoking smuggling and adulteration. Because tea was taxed according to the amount of liquid it had not the amount of leaves, it was brewed in the morning and taxed in that moment so the costumers that had tea in the afternoon had a really different drink that what we are used to have now. This situation continues until 1784, when the government had slashed the taxes over tea in order to cut the power of the criminal networks that where smuggling it.
Tea continues to be a staple of British culture. Together with butter scones, jams and clotted cream is the beast treat you can have in the middle of the afternoon. Student in London were not the first to fill hungry at 5 pm after having a really early lunch. On the contrary, drinking tea at five o´clock with crustless sandwiches became fashionable between high class women in the nineteenth century. But for the men working full time shifts the tea was not a treat between lunch and dinner but the main meal they had when their work was over. A strong black tea with a hot and hearty meal was called the “high tea” and was a really humble tradition compared to its cousin the “afternoon tea”.
So if you fancy a real British experience and you want to consider yourself a real Londoner stop ordering frozen mocha lattes and try a cuppa tea!