…there could be a serpent and an apple tree, earthly delights, a nightingale or, during the length of ‘Omnibus Edition’, Clapham’s Literary Festival, a series of writers.
On Wednesday 4th May Miss South, joint winner of the 2013 Young British Foodies Fresh Voices in Foodwriting, was in the garden of Clapham Books to discuss her recipe book ( with social history included ) ‘Recipes from Brixton Village‘. The book, colourfully illustrated by Kaylene Alder, is a hymn to Brixton Village market, which is located in the 1930s building formerly called the Granville Arcade. The market went through various incarnations and almost fell victim to property developers, but was saved by local pressure groups and an eventual English Heritage Grade II listing. It was the first UK listing on the grounds of cultural, as opposed to architectural, significance, taking into account post-war multiculturalism.
New landlords in 2010 and the community organisers Spacemakers combined to galvanize the market and suddenly Brixton Village became the trendiest place to eat in London. ‘From Time Out to The Observer to the New York Times the resurgence of Brixton Village was everywhere. Queues for some restaurants wre extensive, The traders’ hard work had come to fruition.’
The book contains recipes from around the globe – Italian, Portuguese, Colombian, Pakistani, Nigerian, Mexican, Thai, Ghanaian, Jamaican, Chinese, Japanese, Sierra Leonian – with a slight emphasis on Afro-Caribbean. I am itching to try some of the salsas and sauces, particularly the Fig Relish and some Aji, a hot Colombian salsa. Should be good in Summer.
Miss South was immensely knowledgeable, enthusiastic and engaging. She regularly blogs at www.northsouthfood.com and writes for the Brixton Bugle and the Brixton Blog and has appeared on Radio 4’s The Food Programme and in The Observer Food Monthly. ‘Recipes from Brixton Village‘ ( Kitchen Press ) costs £15.99.
On Friday 6th May the garden resounded to poetry at a very well-attended session by the South Bank Poets. A group of poets, lead by Peter Ebsworth and Katherine Lockton, they launched the most recent ( 23rd ) edition of their magazine, South Bank Poetry, at the Festival. Unfortunately we arrived after they had begun, but we did get to hear the wonderful deadpan delivery of David Floyd, reading from his latest collection ‘Protest‘ ( Hearing Eye ) £4.
The first and last poems in the collection, entitled ‘The dead swan at the bus stop‘ and ‘Protest‘ respectively, are my favourites. David read both. I include the first verse of the latter below, to give a flavour.
‘Remember the time in insert year
when we marched through insert town or city
to march against insert America
after they invaded insert country?’
There was much laughter as David read. The Poets blog regularly on their web-site ( though not as regularly as Miss South, who posts new recipes several times a week ).
The next occupants of the garden created more, if more high-pitched, laughter on Saturday morning. Ana and Thiago Moraes, Clapham residents, brought along their artists’ equipment and their menagerie of miraculous animals. ‘The Zoomers Handbook‘ has been doing very well on Amazon and the garden was a perfect place for their creations to leap ( literally ) from the page. Your blogger did not attend this session, being about fifty years too old and much too large to play. Besides, she was busy making tapas, which would find their way to the garden, with lots of other items, later that day.
A version of this article first appeared during the Clapham Literary Festival 2016 on The Story Bazaar web-site.