Word of mouth: Rocket man
Need exotic fruit and veg? Fred Foster knows his onions
Saturday 17 April 1999
You can't miss Turnips' large sign, arching over its large-gated courtyard in the heart of Borough Market, which dates back to Victorian times. Inside, behind the boxes of organic lemons and sacks of banana shallots, squashed between the order sheets, old herb boxes, account files, a kettle and blow-heater, Fred Foster runs the business with his wife, Caroline. She still finds it hard to keep a straight face when people call her Mrs Turnip.
Both of them have fruit and veg in their blood. The couple met in Tachbrook Street Market in Pimlico when they worked on their family stalls. "My father specialised in salads," says Fred, "Webb's Wonder, Cos lettuces, radishes and spring onions, but you soon develop your own style." Fred, who took over Fosters of Pimlico 12 years ago, became known for his unusual vegetables: rocket, tiny spinach leaves, smoked garlic, wild mushrooms, even truffles graced his stall in the late Eighties. Soon chefs were beating a path to Pimlico, and as supermarkets tempted shoppers away from the street market, the Fosters decided that it was time to concentrate on the restaurant business. Turnips was born.
As all Fred's chefs know, he's a football fanatic, which helps explain the name he chose. At the time, the England manager Graham Turner had been dubbed "Turnip Head" by The Sun. "I wanted something that people would remember," Chelsea supporter Fred chuckles.
As Turnips took off as a wholesale business about five years ago, the Fosters decided to end 130 years of trading in Tachbrook Street Market. The Fosters change of location has now brought them back in contact with the public. With regular open days turning Borough Market into a Mecca for food lovers, anyone can visit Fred for the pick of the crop which he searches out from smaller growers, insisting that everything tastes as good as it looks.
"In my eyes a knobbly carrot is just as beautiful as a uniform one," he argues, before arranging his produce to look as attractive as the tasteless but perfectly formed veg we're used to. "Why do people who sell organic food make it look so awful?" he wonders. His displays are proving so popular that he's thinking of opening an organic greengrocers under one of Borough's railway arches.
Meanwhile who can resist Fred Foster's wholesale prices? Organic oranges from Sicily at 35p a pound; and exquisite heads of trevisse and chicoria at pounds 1.80 each. Borough Market, Stoney Street, London SE1 is open on the third Saturday of every month from 9am-5pm, for details telephone 0171- 407 1800.
Life & Style blogs
Airline food across the classes: Ever wondered what the other half are eating?
What do the emoji on Snapchat mean?
A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
Huawei P8 review: best phones nobody's seen from the biggest company nobody's heard
The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive - it's where the CIA gets its coffee fix
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
- 1 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 2 US? China? India? The 10 biggest economies in 2030 will be...
- 3 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
- 4 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
- 5 Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...
£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...