The history of London markets stretches back to Roman times, and today the city still boasts a thriving street shopping culture, with markets devoted to food, flowers, clothing, antiques, and more. In the modern era, the existence of supermarkets rendered street markets less central to daily life, but in the past decade, the city has seen a resurgence of interest in local, seasonal food and personal connection with farmers. London's first certified farmers' market – meaning all the food is grown or produced by the seller – opened in 1999, and today there are 15 markets throughout the city. Most are held on the weekend, but the Swiss Cottage farmers' market is a unique mid-week market, occurring on Wednesdays.
When we visited the Swiss Cottage farmers' market in northwest London last week, the vendors and market manager were quick to point out that it was one of the smaller farmers' markets in the city. As a weekday event, a modest atmosphere was to be expected, yet we were still impressed by the range of offerings and deep knowledge of the producers.
Despite being a vegetarian, this writer appreciated having a long conversation with the proprietor of March House Farm, which raises traditional pasture fed lamb and beef in Leicestershire. Other foods available at the market include fresh fruits and vegetables (asparagus and strawberries are the current spring highlights) as well as fish, eggs, cheese, dried fruits, pickles (including the best Iranian pickled shallot we've ever tasted), a large range of baked goods, potted plants, and prepared Indian food.
While it may not be as large or bustling as London's weekend farmers' markets, the Swiss Cottage market is a fine stop for local residents or tourists to purchase ingredients for the evening's meal or a bite for lunch, and to have the to opportunity to chat with the passionate producers of our food.
• For more information on the Swiss Cottage farmers' market and other London farmers' markets, visit London Farmers' Markets
(Images: Emily Ho)