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The thunderous sounds of the trains could be heard above as I entered the Borough Market. Opened since 1755, the Borough Market is one of the oldest food markets in London. It has become synonymous with artisanal, locally produced foods, attracting food bloggers, travel photographers, locals, and tourists alike. Inside, bakers and cooks were hawking dishes such as Indian curries, Thai street food, beef pot pies, and burgitos, a hybrid between a burger and burrito.
It was difficult to pick a place. I eventually saw an Argentinian stand specializing in empanadas and canocitos with dulce de leche, a soft breaded dough with caramel filling. The smell of freshly baked empanadas and sweet caramel proved to be too alluring. I stepped in and ordered both items. The baker, Philippe was a bearded lanky man with glasses and peered over to ask how they tasted. “They both taste delicious. Did you learn to make these while you were in Argentina?” “Actually, I’m not from Argentina. I’m from Spain.” “Oh? So how did you end up owning an Argentinian food stand in London?” He answered by saying he originated from Oviedo, a city based in Northern Spain and how his family traveled over 500 miles to live in Barcelona. I told him of my love for paella, to which he responded with immediate distaste. “How could you not like paella? It’s the best thing ever!” “My mom was the worst cook when it came to paella. The rice was soggy and the flavors were bland. Plus, it didn’t help that she made it whenever I was hung over.”
He then inquired about my background. I stated I was from Atlanta but knowing that he was really asking about my ethnicity, I also mentioned my family was from Vietnam. “Vietnam! I love pho. You must teach me how to make this dish.” I told him the key to cooking pho was putting the time and care into the broth. We continued to converse with one another until several customers arrived to order coffee. We finally said our goodbyes knowing we probably won’t ever meet again, but I felt content that I had bonded over food with a Spanish baker from Oviedo.
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