Two of a kind: Sharon and Annette

Categories: Behind the stalls

Twin sisters who work at different stalls on working with each other and childhood meals

Sharon on Annette
I run The Gated Garden flower stall at Borough Market. I used to work for the previous owner when the stall was known as The Market Garden on Stoney Street, and when he retired I was looking for something long term. My husband and I saw it as an opportunity to take over the business.

It’s great working here at Borough, surrounded by so much amazing food. While you can get things from all over the world, a lot of the things Annette and me like are firmly rooted in the food we ate growing up, as children.

The difference now is that there are great ingredients on hand when we want to make those childhood favourites. Growing up there were four of us—we have an older and younger brother—and there was not really any spare money about so what mum put on the table we ate, even if we didn’t like it.

Annette started working here when Gary, who founded Total Organics, was short staffed and asked if she would cover Saturdays. That was about three years ago, a little while after I had started at The Market Garden, and she has been there ever since.

She can be a bit of a health freak so she really likes her juices as well as fresh fruit and vegetables. But on the other hand she loves apple crumble and can eat those old fashioned white milk bottle-shaped sweets by the packet. If Annette was going to go for a drink after work she would choose The Globe or the Market Porter on Stoney Street.

We both really like cooking and often go round to the other’s house for dinner. The last time I went to Annette’s she cooked a roast dinner. It was beef, baked potatoes, yorkshire puddings, cauliflower cheese, carrots, runner beans, romanesco cauliflower and onion gravy. They love a roast at her house, it’s their favourite family meal—they have it at least once a week, sometimes more.

If I was choosing a place for dinner with my sister I would look for a nice gastro pub. There are some nice ones around. She likes a nice pub atmosphere and you can get really great British cooking—she’s happy to try other things but I would say traditional British food is her favourite. We’re quite ordinary in our food tastes and I think that is down to the way we were brought up.

People ask what it’s like having your sister working at the Market; I really like it. It is great being in daily contact with someone so close, and to have that connection nearby.

Sharon and Annette

Annette on Sharon
I work at Total Organics juice bar. The link that first brought us to the Market was Sharon’s husband Paul, who works in wholesale. His family have worked in the Market for years and he has worked here since he was a boy.

Mum cooked simple, wholesome food. It was basically meat and two veg with gravy, but without the side dishes and things you see a lot nowadays. There were things like mashed potatoes, liver and bacon pearl barley stews. It was well cooked and mum always found something for pudding.

She was quite strict, we were not allowed to leave the table until our plate was empty. There was no fussy eating in our house! Sharon hated pearl barley and liver but she cleaned her plate like the rest of us. You’ll never find either of them in her house now—she is in charge of the food.

Our mother was a cleaner in a sweet shop and she used to bring back these sweets called peanut brittle. Sharon loved them. You used to be able to buy bags of broken biscuits and we would always get some from the local market. They were brilliant!

Sharon says she has very simple tastes. If I had to choose her favourite foods, I’d say some are definitely traditionally British. She likes anything sweet and really loves the winter desserts like spotted dick with custard and treacle sponge.

She also loves chicken and bacon toasted sandwiches. But when we are going out her favourite food is oriental, especially Japanese. If we are nipping out for dinner after finishing work, her first choice will always be Wagamama. She loves the place.

The pair of us working in the Market is nothing new, we worked for the same company for years before coming here. We still meet for a chat every day. If we’re having a hot drink we’ll go to Rabot Estate or head over to the boys at Flat Cap Coffee Co, and will pick things up for each other from the stalls.

The last time I ate at Sharon’s house we had a BBQ. Her husband Paul does brilliant BBQs and we are definitely in the best place to get the ingredients. Paul cooked steak, chicken and prawns and Sharon made different types of salads.

There was homemade coleslaw, couscous, and a beetroot and onion side dish. It’s really simple, but very nice. She grates the beetroot, finely chops the onions, mixes them well and then puts them in the fridge overnight. The flavours mix and it becomes quite sweet. It’s a bit different but goes really well with the meat.

The best thing about having Sharon working at Borough is just that she is handy: she is always here if I need some help at any point in the day. We have always been together. It just feels right for her to be working nearby.