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Bury Market

May 10, 2009

It’s Friday lunchtime and Bury Market is heaving with people catching a bite for lunch or a quick coffee at one of the many food stores dotted around.

I am sat in Diggles inside the undercover section of the market with a large mug of Latte. Behind me is a hot plate with half- cooked chickens and large ham shanks covered in thick slabs of crackling, which according to the owner simply melt in your mouth.

If you buy a chicken you get free stuffing with it, he tells an elderly lady who politely declines his offer. Two women are gossiping about their summer holidays but the conversation is being drowned out by the sounds of the espresso machine. It is all activity.

Young heavily made-up girls looking more akin to the makeup counter at the local Boots are rushing around behind the counter trying to keep up with the customers. “Pork sandwich with stuffing? What filling do you want?” they shout whilst another request comes in for sausage bap and chips. Another frantically scrubs at a large chrome plate, hoping that the hot soapy water will remove all the grease stains, whilst the man in charge barks out instructions wearing a black pinstriped apron and would look more at home on the set of Sweeney Todd.

This is the “World famous Bury Market” as the signs and the jingles on the tannoy system keep reminding you. The full market runs three times a week (Weds, Friday and Saturday.) It attracts a quarter of a million people every week, covers over 200,000 sq feet and claims to have over 50,000 product lines and over 350 stores.

It was recently voted “Best British Market of the Year” by the National Association of British Market Authorities. There are three parts to the market, the Indoor market, the meat and fish Market and the outdoor flea market, the latter only being open three days of the week.

There is not a great deal that you can’t buy. The variety of items on sale is enormous, children’s clothes, shoes, health foods, mobile phones, underwear, hardware and jewellery amongst some along with hairdressers, dog kennel makers and carpet fitters.

Then there are the food stores Fruit and vegetables, meats and fish as well as the famous pies and black puddings the area is famous for.

Black pudding and pies sums up Bury for some.. They keep it quiet in this corner of Lancashire but the Black pudding first found its way into Britain via Yorkshire, being brought over by European monks. It was a way of utilising another bit of the pig, the blood, adding to the saying that you can eat everything of a pig except its squeak. The ingredients will vary from supplier to supplier but the taste combinations are a closely guarded secret dependant on the mixture of herbs and spices. Why Lancashire retained its love of the food is unclear. One theory being that it was a cheap food for the industrial masses, and easy to prepare in the basic kitchens of the poor.

If you don’t fancy black pudding then maybe cows heels or pig belly will suffice.

I walked around.  There was a crowd round the chocolate store, selling super value liquorice all sorts for a pound or just around the corner, luxury food for your dog, pig’s ears and trotters or even smoked ham.

It seems to have a life and character all of its own.  ”I come here for the mini sausages” a young lad tells me licking the BBQ sauce from his lips and he plunges his hands into the white bag to draw out another.

A small girl, no longer than three years old and strapped into a buggy is trying to eat a pie with a plastic fork.  She perseveres for a while attempting to remove the crust from its tin foil tray before her mother has to intervene.

They certainly start them young in Bury

For more details on Bury Market-check out their  Website

For more details on Bury’s Famous Black pudding visit the Bury Black pudding Company

Bury’s Full Market is open Wednesday and Friday 9-4.30 and Saturday 9-5.00

There are easy links by transport from Manchester City Centre by tram or bus.

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