Borough Market had a blogging competition last week. The theme was to choose any ingredient from the market and write whatever you’d like about it. The winner gets a gourmet hamper bag and has their post published on Borough Market’s blog. Although I didn’t win, I came close and got a nice shout-out from them about my post. Here’s the link to it:
My entry to the competition:
In the autumn of 2002, I came to London on a study abroad programme with my university in the States. I had the incredible fortune of being placed in a student hall located a short walk away from Borough Market. Starting from my first trip there, the market became a haven to me. It was an escape from the grey, overcooked meals at the student canteen and the cheap sandwiches from the campus deli. In another stroke of luck, less than a month after classes started I met Adam, a fellow student who quickly became a companion during my Borough Market treks and a partner in crime for other gluttonous activities. Our weekly market lunch was a ritual that fit perfectly into a student life blessed with time but not much money, and which also revolved around eating.
Many of our trips involved queuing for Brindisa’s grilled chorizo rolls while having the hot paprika smoke blow into our faces, taunting us. We loved how the piquancy of the sausage contrasted so wonderfully with the sweet red pepper and fresh rocket. We loved having to be careful when we bit into the sandwich so that the chorizo’s warm, flavoursome oil oozed onto the crusty bread rather than on our shoes. It also inspired us to cook paellas which we’d make in my dormitory’s stark, spartan kitchen.
Almost a decade on, we are now married and live further south of the river. We aren’t able to go to Borough Market as often as we used to and when we do, we buy just a few special things which we can carry back with us after a day out. Brindisa’s own brand chorizo is usually one of them. As an ingredient, it offers maximum depth of flavour with very little effort involved. Although chorizo tends to dominate whatever it is cooked with, this actually makes it a good way to add layers of complexity to the simplest things. Only a few pieces can transform a dish by adding a savoury smokiness to it.
One of my favourite ways to cook chorizo is in a Spanish-inspired stew which I first made for quick weekday dinner. In a heavy bottom pot, I fry slices of chorizo in olive oil with onions and diced pork. After the pork browns, I stir in a spoonful of tomato paste and add a tin of diced tomatoes. I simmer this for about a half hour until the pork is tender and then add butter beans and black pepper and serve with simple boiled potatoes. To drink with it, we discovered that Australian shiraz goes particularly well as it has a smoky tinge to its ripe plum aromas.
Much has changed over the years and Borough Market has changed a lot too, but a getting a whiff of chorizo smoke while walking around the market stalls or cooking in our kitchen at home assures us that what we love about the market still remains.