LONDON: A CITY OF FOOD AND CULTURE
January 1, 1970
by Rachel Gerrish
Being new to blogging, and having travelled to so many places in my 23 years, it took me a while to decide where exactly to write about first. Sometimes I think we forget that to some people, or in my case millions of people, the city on your doorstep is a huge attraction. Although I think of ‘travelling’ as going somewhere far away where I can get lost in an adventure, to lots of people, London is that place. Having lived just an hour outside of London my entire life and having studied in Shepherd’s Bush, I can say that I have spent a fair bit of time in the city.
Although the architecture of our buildings and monuments give you that traditional feeling of Great Britain, the streets are buzzing with culture from all over the world. It’s not only the many tourists who are exploring the city, but the families who settled in London many generations ago and have introduced us to their culture. Personally, this is why I love London. I can be in any area of London and feel like I am anywhere else in the world.
Food markets in London are bursting with proud stall holders, selling food that they believe in, whether it’s local stock or an incredible family recipe that traces back generations. The street food markets are not to be missed. Every time I’m in London I seem to find myself buying food from a market.
Camden Market is my all-time favourite place to be. I love the individuality of the stalls, the friendliness of the stall owners, the amount of culture brought into one small area and, of course, the food on offer. I have to say, I do often travel to Camden just for a bottle of freshly squeezed orange juice. If you’re looking to buy antiques, vintage clothing or furniture, an original American football or baseball jersey, a stunning Turkish mosaic lamp or a fancy dress costume, Camden Stables Market is the place to go. There is so much on offer and even if you’re not looking for anything it’s a guaranteed great day out.
Camden Lock Market offers everything from vegetarian to vegan, gluten to dairy free, mild curries to vibrant spices or English tea and scones. There are small cafés overlooking the market, where you can enjoy a hot or cold drink (depending on the weather) and soak up the lively atmosphere. Alternatively you could buy something that you don’t think will make too much mess, fill your pockets with napkins and make your way around the Stables Market.
Whilst shopping, don’t forget to visit Cyberdog. I can guarantee you won’t be able to miss it. You’ll notice the booming trance music from around the corner and, soon after, your eyes will be drawn to two large cyber robots guarding the entrance to what looks like a club, but in actual fact is a futuristic shop selling clothes and accessories like you’ve never seen before. Perhaps you’ll buy a souvenir, or perhaps not, but it’s worth a look just for the experience.
When you’ve finished shopping there are plenty of bars or traditional English pubs where you can get an alcoholic drink, or perhaps the men can grab a drink whilst the women continue to shop. Camden Town has an excellent nightlife; being home to KOKO, a former theatre and now popular music/club venue. It is hands down, my favourite club in London. The Blues Kitchen just across the road is also great fun, fantastic cocktails and live music.
If you’re a massive foodie like me, you’ll fall in love with Borough Market. The market is located in the heart of central London, with the entrance right by London Bridge tube station. Nobody knows the exact opening date of the market, but it is said to have been there for around 1000 years in some way or another. Being situated at one end of London Bridge, the market is easily accessible for people on both sides of the Thames.
The centre of the market boasts fresh renowned produce, including fruit and vegetables, meats, fish and cheeses. Through the beautiful passageways you can find a global market, full of foods from all around the world. Just like Camden Market, you’re sure to find anything you fancy. If you go when you’re hungry, you won’t be disappointed, and if you go when you’re not, you’re bound to over eat.
If you love chocolate, like I do, visit Rabot 1745; a unique restaurant overlooking Borough Market where you can enjoy a three course meal and a drink all containing cacao from Saint Lucia.
Of course there are plenty of other markets, but I’ll leave you to discover one you’ll love. Try out Old Spitalfields Market for more food, clothes and also some fantastic artwork. Visit Portabello Road Market for antiques, or Brick Lane Market for a real cultural feel, including arts and crafts, saris and spices all at bargain prices.
I know most major cities have a China Town, but if you haven’t been to China or you just love Chinese Food, then this is the place to visit. Take a look at the beautiful but unusual cakes in bakery windows, the Peking ducks in restaurant windows or the very Chinese products sold in the supermarkets. As you walk through the gates you’ll get wafts of tasty Chinese foods and, if you’re like me, you’ll find it hard to resist entering a restaurant and overeating on the all you can eat buffet.
China Town is just a short walk from Leicester Square, right in the centre of London and nearby Soho, Piccadilly Circus and the West End. That’s a whole day of fun things to explore.
I’m all about exploring and adventures and I hope that I can inspire others to discover something amazing of their own. London is a massive area to explore and although I live nearby, I probably haven’t seen the majority of it. Remember, for those of you who live in the UK, our home towns are still exciting for people worldwide, so why can’t they be for us too?