There’s something magical about a giant glass canopy that is home to a place that brims with artisan cheeses, fresh-baked pastries, smelly fish and colorful produce. A place where you can literally taste the world, all under one roof. This place exists in London and, for the past five months I was beyond fortunate to live just a ten-minute walk away from it.

Tucked among the cobbled walls of the Southwark Cathedral— at the southern end of the London Bridge— lies the landmark of London’s diverse culinary scene. Borough Market, which has been open for over 1,000 years, has food vendors from South America to India casting spells that charm visitors into sampling their products. Week after week, I struggled to fight against the temptation to walk those extra ten minutes just to taste it all one more time.

From all of my visits to Borough Market, I learned that it is sacred in its own right— through the years it has become an essential experience of life in London. I had never before seen vendors selling everything from enormous mushrooms and football-shaped watermelons to pounds of chocolate; or prepare steaming plates of paella and freshly-made pasta all for the millions of hungry visitors to enjoy.

One of the things that I enjoyed the most about London is slowly moving from place to place, learning and seeing and eating, trying to understand its people and its culture, not just its sights. This is what I did at Borough Market.

I don’t think I noticed how much it had to offer until an afternoon that I was caught inside by a moody evening rain in February. I saw cheese melting over roasted potatoes, mulled wine pouring over plastic glasses, and wooden spoons swirling over pans of pad thai. There were dishes with colorful curries, and soft pitas filled with succulent, grilled kebabs. I didn’t know where to begin or end. Each dish was different from the last, and I ended up sampling so many different things that I was no longer hungry.

I remember spending most of my time at a stall that sold homemade jams. Rosebud Preserves offered jams of so many different fruits that paired perfectly with all the bread and cheese that I had already tried. I could taste an appreciation for the seasons and an explosion of flavor in all of them, but especially in the cherry-amaretto jam, my favorite. I bought one jar, and it became a ritual for me to visit them and sample the jams once again every time I went to Borough Market. I became so well acquainted with the vendors, that one day one of them screamed my name and told me they had the fresh cherry amaretto jam I liked!

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