What a curious market is Maltby Street. Every Saturday, under the arches of the railway line, various vendors gather to peddle their wares – not that you would know it at first glance.
Unlike the heaving stalls of nearby Borough, Maltby is tucked away and still relatively unknown.
While the northern end buzzes with people buying hot food and cocktails, five minutes away is another collection of shops in draughty cubby holes, hidden so well that most walkers would stroll right past. This is the second section: the secretive Spa Terminus Market.
For us, it was a treasure trove of surprises: just when we thought we had browsed it all, another small place would appear, or a handmade sign would alert us to somewhere else we might find near by.
Take the Little Bread Pedlar, for instance, who normally dole out their baked goods by bike. We almost missed them, obscured by stacked crates as they were, but luckily the Man was curious enough to look more closely.
Thank goodness he did, for inside was a treat that caught our collective eye: a tray of lesser-spotted London Buns.
Having lived in this city for more than two years, you would think we’d have seen these all over the place. But no: they were our first sighting.
Apparently they are traditional, though accounts of their ingredients don’t necessarily concur. Indeed, while Wikipedia agrees that they are finger-shaped and iced, its article states that they’re flavoured with Currants or Caraway.
LBP, meanwhile, create theirs with a Lemon and Cardamom icing – far more enticing to lovers of zing like myself.
We bought one at once – for the bargainous price of £1.50 – and took it outside to get our first taste of tradition.
Very lovely it was too: a soft, plain Bun with the thickest and sweetest of icings. Taste-wise, the Lemon was rather drowned out by the Cardamom, but the overall fragrant effect was well worth a good hearty chew.
Makes you wonder how a truly representative London Bun would taste though, doesn’t it, Ogglers?
A hint of essence of Pigeon? Dashes of eau de la taxi? Dark brown Thames-water icing?
I think I’ll pass.