When the old hall of London’s Borough Market was shut a month ago to facilitate construction of a new Thameslink train line into London Bridge station, the baker De Gustibus was one of four traders suddenly forced to give up their stalls. That was a devastating development both for the DG employees who would likely lose their jobs as well as devotees of the salt beef sandwiches they assembled with thick, tender slices of house-brined, hand-carved brisket. At first I felt angry and disillusioned. But when, during a visit to the food market last Friday, I observed that the DG meat carvers Genti and Andrea had been thrown out on the street I no longer felt sad. Truth be told I was elated. The bakery had moved its sandwich carving table to the pavement outside its shop (see map), thereby shortening the interminable walk from the Borough High Street exit of the Underground to my beloved hot salt beef by some 25 meters. Better still, that sandwich would now be served on Saturdays as well as Fridays.
After pausing to have a sandwich and take some photos I introduced myself to Genti and Andrea and told them how pleased I was to see them braving the elements. Though it was a mild autumn day I could already imagine them as characters in a Dickensian winter streetscape, warming their frostbitten fingers over steaming briskets. Andrea (at right in photo below) is from Florence, where the most popular sandwich meat is not salt beef but rather lampredotto (boiled cow’s stomach). Andrea wanted to know what I thought of his suggestion that they offer salsa verde, the Tuscan parsley sauce used for panino di lampredotto, as a condiment for salt beef. “Hmmm,” I smiled, recalling drippy tripe sandwiches at Florence’s Mercato di San Lorenzo. “No, with salt beef it has to be mustard.”