"Do i need any more?", I hear you cry,"You had me with the Rosendale. I've already spoken to Foxtons and they've told me to get out of Islington, and fast! They've even offered me one of their fashionable little Minis to whisk me round some terribly bijou neighbourhood, what's it called again? oh yes. Honor Oak Park, that's it. SE23 or something. Sounds just perrrrrrrrrrfect. I'm sure I can convince Tabitha, Blabitha, and Shabitha to move too. Sorry dahling, i've got to go and help Oscar with his colouring in. You'd think as a 40 year old corporate lawyer he'd have mastered Crayola by now..."
What's that got to do with the price of fish? Not much I admit. It's just a clumsy segueway between this and the last post. But as an exercise I thought I'd go and compare the price of fish at Borough Market with my local SE London Fishmonger, FC Soper of Nunhead. Everyone loves Borough Market. It's a foodie heaven after all, and just 10 minutes on the train from chez moi. You can't help but get a rush of endorphins just walking around the place, seeing fresh produce stacked high on tables, aged wing ribs of beef, and cascading displays of fish.
What's more, as an unemployed loafer, I'm now able to saunter around on the relatively calm days of Thursday and Friday and avoid the hell that is Saturday. Joy. Of course the downside of unemployment is a distinct lack of dollar to buy any of this stuff so I just have to lasciviously eye up the meat like a Ben Sherman-ed 19 year old on the pull in Kudos nightclub, Watford.
Food at Borough is beautiful, but it comes at a premium. I wonder just what that premium is?
Seeing as I was after some Red Mullet, I thought I'd compare fish prices between Borough and Sopers, my local fishmonger which is also recommended by none other than Jay Rayner. Armed with my digital camera I took some pictures so I could note all the prices quickly.
Borough - £18.50 per kilo
Sopers - £8.00 per kilo
Borough - £16.00 per kilo
Sopers - £11.60 per kilo
Borough - £29.00 per kilo
Sopers - £18.50 per Kilo
Borough - £6.90 per kilo
Sopers - £4.65 per kilo
Borough - £15.00 per kilo
Sopers - £9.50 per kilo
That's a pretty big premium to pay, in some cases over 100%, for the privilege of getting your fish from Borough market. So what makes Borough fish so special? Is it transfered to port in a multimillion pound Sunseeker yacht, sipping vintage Krug in a saltwater jacuzzi? Does it arrive in London in a stretch limo with Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton for company? Or is it just shrewdly priced by a fishmonger who understands the cashed up market he's selling to?
Food sold at Borough Market is as much about the packaging as the raw ingredients, and by packaging I don't mean plastic wrapping or paper bags. I mean that Borough Market itself is the packaging, a premium brand, and a place to be seen that bestows additional credibility on wannabe foodies. On the other hand, spend an hour buying veggies at the countless african stalls on Peckham High Street and you'll return home a lot richer but without the "status" that shopping at Borough bestows. Strangely I feel slightly guilty writing this, like I'm slagging off the Queen to monarchists, Shoreditch House to media whores, or Boujis to It Girls and Eurotrash.
It becomes clear I've been sucked in by the Borough Market brand too and I guess I'll continue to go there and pay over the odds in order to feel smug at being able to find yellow tomatoes and 2 foot wide puffball mushrooms. hurrah!
Cornish Red Mullet with a Yellow Tomato Sauce Vierge