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View from the stalls: Lida Papamatthaiaki

Categories: Behind the stalls

The familiar face at Oliveology on her relationship with food and the Market

1—I was introduced to Marianna, who owns Oliveology, by a mutual friend and have worked here since 2012—other than a short period when I moved back to Greece. But I couldn’t really stay away from Borough Market! I have always loved and been very curious about food, but it is through working here that my passion developed. I went back to Greece to go to cookery school. It was mostly about Greek cuisine, but we studied French and international cooking too. Now, I often host cookery classes and workshops with Marianna.

2—Some of our customers we have known for many years and we’ve developed a special bond with them. It’s always great to speak with fellow traders too: ask their opinion, taste different things and learn their story.

3—I cannot imagine my life without olive oil. If I go home and there’s none in the cupboard, I am desperate. It is definitely one of my favourite things from the stall. We also have a beeswax balm that I am in love with. Now that the weather is turning cold again, if I know we are running out I buy at least two so I can have one at home. Everyone laughs at me, because when a customer is pondering whether to buy it or not, I say, “you need to buy it, you must have it!” The weather here really affects my skin, it was my saviour.

4—I always have the producers in my mind when I am telling customers about a product. Some of them I have met and I know their temperament; how they work and their passion. In most cases the produce reflects the personality of the producer—you can really tell who has made it. I feel proud to be representing them in the Market. They work so hard every day. They need people like us to present them well.

5—Every season in the Market is lovely, but especially Christmas. Everyone is so cheerful! But my favourite season for produce is summer. I really love all of the beautiful British ingredients—it’s amazing to see it at Borough, there’s such an abundance and so many amazing colours.

6—I am a mindful meat eater and when I buy something from the butchers here, you can really tell that they care for the animals—it shows when you eat it. Another thing I love about the Market is the many varieties of mushrooms you can get. At the Oliveology Christmas workshop last year, we stuffed butternut squashes with peanuts and mushrooms and different cheeses—that’s one of the things I love doing.

7—My background is in social anthropology; I moved to London to study a masters in it. It was 2010 and everyone was writing food blogs—I did my dissertation on it. There were also so many supperclubs, it seemed everyone was either hosting one or going to one! I am fascinated by the London food scene, how versatile and vibrant it is, how many different cuisines there are—not just how many, but the variety within them too.

8—Marianna and I have been working together for so many years, we have seen every side of each other: the happy side, the excited side, the upset side. I’m very happy and blessed that we have such a collaboration. It helps us both develop, personally as well as professionally.