Nana Fanny’s (Borough Market, London, UK)

Despite the lack of reviews associated with our 20 mile “Death March” itself, don’t be fooled into thinking we weren’t eating. In addition to stopping for German Food, by mid-point of the March we’d also stopped for pork buns, a beer break, another 99 Flake, and even some mini donuts on the Thames. So we weren’t lacking for sustenance. But a bit after the halfway point of our walk, we hit one of our major stops: Borough Market. Long one of London’s major produce and specialty food markets, on the weekends (now expanding into most of the week) it’s a pretty major food destination, with one of the larger outdoor food markets. It was here in Borough Market that I found Nana Fanny’s and stopped for a quick “salt beef bagel”.

One of the things I like about a London style “salt beef bagel” (sometimes spelled “beigel”) is that while, conceptually, it’s not really any different than, say a New York style “corned beef on a bagel”, in practice it ends up being a pretty distinct sandwich. To start with, the long an complicated history of the bagel means that the London and New York (and Montreal, for that matter) baking traditions for this common bread diverged quite a long time ago, so the bagel itself is a substantially different texture and flavor from its counterparts: sweeter and doughier than the New York bagel, but less malty and roasted than the Montreal bagel. While it’s not a style that I’d go out of my way for as a separate menu item, it does make a good sandwich. And, much like Montreal’s “smoked meat”, British “salt beef” is a similar interpretation of cured beef with spice along with (US style) corned beef and pastrami, but with a spicing and texture that mostly resemble “red corned beef”. Add in some lightly cured pickle, and some bold English-style Colman’s mustard, and the result is a very tasty sandwich, and Nana Fanny’s does an excellent job of it.

If tooling around Borough Market (or, for that matter, Spitalfields, Broadway, or Camden Locks markets), Nana Fanny’s continues to produce a tasty and flavorful salt beef bagel. Consider stopping by for a snack.

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