Our literary neighborhood

London, England. This was an unusual day for us, as it did not involve a stately home or a trip outside the city. Instead, In the morning, I spent some time at our favorite podiatrist’s office, learning why I have felt like I was walking on rocks. (Don had a foot issue when we returned from Italy a few years ago, and the same doctor cured him.) In my case, he removed the rock that actually was embedded in my foot, though he called it a pebble. A nuance of language, I guess.

We celebrated by taking a walk around our celebrated neighborhood, which has quite a history.

Let’s start with Charles Dickens. Across the street from us is St. George’s Church, whose church yard adjoins the site of Marshalsea Prison, the debtors prison where his father was incarcerated. All that is left of that infamous prison is the wall, which is maintained as a memorial to those who suffered there. Dickens used that experience when he wrote Little Dorrit, whose father was also imprisoned there and whose wedding was held at St. George’s. Across the street is a little children’s park is named in her honor.

Down the road, Borough High Street,  – which by the way is the original Roman road and the long-time route into London from the South – is the George, where Dickens drank when he was working out the next installments of his books, when he lived in the area. The George or George Inn is a pub established in the medieval period and is the only surviving galleried London coaching inn. The pictures will explain what a galleried inn is. These places were also sometimes used for theatrical performances, which might explains why Shakespeare would drop in occasionally from the nearby Globe and other theaters.

The adjoining yard was also of literary note, where the Tabard Inn stood, the gathering place for Chaucer’s pilgrims on their way to Canterbury. Sadly, it was demolished in the 19th century.

Our last stop was the famous Borough Market, one of the largest and oldest in London, with a market on the site dating back to at least the 12th century. The present buildings were built in the 1850’s, and today the market is packed full of specialty food vendors. How lucky we are to have a fridge at our disposal to store some of these goodies!

Don’s Food Corner

We had lunch at the George Inn, where we expected to find traditional British dishes. And, sure enough, the menu offered nearly all the classics. Having had some pretty bad versions of these dishes in pubs, we were a little nervous about ordering them in what is clearly a tourist destination.

Jo ordered steak and ale pie. I ordered chicken and mushroom pie. To our delight, the pies were served in individual pies, not just scooped out of a large tray with contents below and a layer of pastry on top.

I’m not sure how they did it, but the pies were piping hot, and, even more amazing, the pastry was flaky and not soggy. It was as if they had been especially prepared and served directly from the oven. In other words, no sense of them being reheated. Is it possible to keep pastry so crispy and flaky to reheat the contents so thoroughly? I’d love to know the secret.

Both of our pies were served potato mash and vegetables (mostly savoy cabbage) and a nice individual pitchers of gravy. Real gravy. Not that Frenchy au jus stuff.

As authentic as all of this was (and washed down with large glasses of Indian Pale Ale), it has to reported that these are heavy meals. I promised myself that that would be it for eating for the day. But then we wandered through Borough Market and found a big piece of ginger cake — my favorite — as well as cinnamon rolls, real Camembert cheese and crusty baguettes  – and all good intentions were tossed to the wind. All of this was consumed before photos could be taken.

That market is dangerously close to our apartment.

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