My market: Yaiza and Lidia

Categories: Reflections and opinions

Helena Smith talks to some of Borough’s regular shoppers to find out their favourite Market haunts and ingredients—and what keeps them coming back. This time, friends and flatmates Yaiza and Lidia

Yaiza Mora and Lidia De Sande are both from Spain, but met in a flat share in Borough. They became friends from the moment of meeting, and enjoy sharing Spanish dishes with each other, and with their Scottish and American flatmates. Yaiza, a software developer, is originally from the Congo but was brought up in Madrid, while Lidia was born in Asturias but lived in the culinary hotspot of León. She now works for a Borough tech company as an office and happiness manager. Yaiza and Lidia live a short stroll from Borough Market, where they shop for Spanish produce, fresh vegetables and fruit.

Living in León I was always aware of quality food. Our specialities include morcilla, a blood sausage which is like black pudding but better, and cecina, which is salted air-dried meat.

At home we have big gatherings which can easily last all day. On Sundays we eat Spanish omelette with potato, egg, onion and maybe chorizo, which you can buy from Brindisa in the Market. They stock lots of other iconic Spanish meats—jamon (ham), lomo (cured pork) and cecina—as well as jars of pickled garlic cloves and manchego cheese. ¡Qué rico! (delicious).

Brindisa is piled up with Ortiz tuna and anchovies in beautiful lemon-yellow tins, which always make me feel at home. And it’s lovely to see their tarta de Santiago, an almond tart which is very thin and not too sweet. It’s typical of the north of Spain.

I work so close to our flat that I have time to shop and cook every lunchtime. As well as getting Spanish produce from Brindisa, I go to the veg stalls, buy spelt bread and keep well stocked with blueberries and strawberries. My work is all about promoting happiness, and for me cooking and sharing food is part of a happy, healthy life.”

Yaiza and Lidia

Cooking in Spain is still mostly a female preserve, and it always feels like a social event. One of my favourite dishes is cocido, a chickpea stew with chicken, morcilla and pork fat which is slow-cooked. The chickpeas are soaked a day in advance—when my grandmother cooks this we all savour the occasion. I also love chicharrón, made with pork belly, which is dished up with hogaza, a large slow-cooked bread. We are big meat eaters in Spain!

I don’t always cook Spanish food: here in London when I’m in a hurry I make fish en papillote, which involves wrapping salmon, vegetables and herbs in foil and cooking it in the oven. Furness Fish Markets and Shellseekers Fish and Game have fantastic fresh salmon. I’ve also got out of the habit of late eating. Back home we don’t start to eat till around 10pm, but now for me it’s more like 7pm.

I’d say in Spain we are good at reinventing our cooking traditions and bringing them right up to date. Gazpacho is a dish that is more typical of the south, but it’s been copied all over Spain and is really popular in the summer months when the temperatures rise. There are lots of variations on the dish, but this version comes from my mother in Madrid.