I was an early convert to the street food movement upon arrival in London some three and a half years ago. It wasn’t difficult to be converted when Exmouth Market was just up the road from me making it easy to pop out for lunch. Exmouth Market is surely one of the best locations in London comprising some of the best and most diverse quality food environments on offer, both of the indoor and outdoor variety. Just think about it, walk up Emouth Market from the Farringdon Road side and consider the options at your feet. On your right, you’ll happen upon Spinach and Agushi – great for outdoor Ghanaian food and who have a wide presence at a number of London markets including Portobello. On your left you’ll locate Caravan, home to what my sources tell me is some of the best coffee in London (not forgetting Prufrock or Coleman’s).
Continue along Exmouth Market and in terms of quality restaurants you have Moro, Morito (Moro’s tapas bar), and Medcalf to choose from. Outdoors, the best options include Thai, Bangla, Indian, or Mexican. On this occasion, it’s none of these I visit. Instead, I halt my step half way up the market at Seed, the vegetarian salad bar. The real world is manic and deadlines abound so I need a healthy dose of vitamins to keep me on my toes. For winter, Seed, offer a tub of mixed salad for £4, or a combination of hot and cold vegetarian food for £4.50. I need to warm the cockles of my cold cold heart and select the combo option.
A mountain of vegetables descends into the tub. This includes sweet potato, chickpeas, peas and green leaves which are combined into a soup like nourishing fill. This fills the bottom of the tub, to which is then added the cold salad of lentils, cabbage, beetroot, carrots, greens, olives, peppers and cucumbers. To finish off the salad a large dollop of hummus is spooned on top before the tub is sealed, cash exchanged and I head off on my merry way, lunch in hand to enjoy my colourful composition of goodness.
I retire to Spa Fields to enjoy my lunch. It’s difficult to define a particular favourite from the combination as each on their own is very tasty. I do have a particular affinity with the pickled white cabbage which is finally sliced, a first cousin of the sauerkraut (the cabbage that is, not the person). The black olives too add a distinct flavour to the mixture, and I can’t finish off without mentioning the al dente carrots which are seasoned with salt. What makes the meal however really is the combination of so many different vegetables each with their own distinctive taste and flavour.
Spa Fields in the summer at lunchtime is full of folk enjoying some summer sun whilst enjoying something to eat. Today, I have the park to myself save for a solitary other willing to brave the sharp cold. In this empty cold space, the park has a relaxing and calming influence, and it’s hard to imagine that a Bone House and Graveyard once stood at this site from the 1780s when over 80,000 internments took place over 50 years. Having enjoyed lunch it’s back to the impending deadlines.