I am pleased and slightly apprehensive to tell you that Brixton Village is getting its own cookbook next year. The pleasure comes from the fact the book will celebrate all the food traders and sellers in the Village, not just the well known ones. The apprehension comes from the fact by the time you read this, I have just one day left to get the manuscript to the publisher and may be panicking ever so slightly…
Luckily I’m writing it for the fantastic Kitchen Press books based in Scotland and I have the full support of all traders who have been generous with their time, recipes and their food as the project has come together over the last nine months.
Entitled Recipes from Brixton Village, the book seeks to capture the unique atmosphere of the former Granville Arcade by gathering together recipes from those who run both the newer restaurants and the more established stalls and grocers. Some are favourites that people will happily queue on a Friday night for, some are dishes the traders cook at home and others are there to show you how to use the wonderful fresh produce Brixton Village still sells.
There are over 100 recipes featuring meat, fish, vegetables, side dishes, seasonings, sweet treats and drinks. We’ve got the recipe for Lab G’s salted caramel ice cream along with Kaosarn’s Green Curry. Fish Wings and Tings have given their codfish fritters and there’s even an idea of what do with the famous African Land Snails. You can tour round the market, finding out about the food, the history and the traders and deciding where to visit next.
The book is being illustrated by fellow Bugler, Kaylene Alder and published in spring 2014 (exact date to be confirmed). My mind is already wandering towards just how great the launch party will be with all those traders coming together to celebrate their skills and businesses. And of course, the venue will be pretty special.
However it’s not all about good nights out. I’m hoping the book will draw attention to the fact that Brixton Village isn’t just about the new restaurants, but a fully functioning retail market that needs to be used and valued. If you’re worried that it will become too gentrified or too white or leave the community behind, you need to try and use it for the day to day items and ingredients where you can and encourage others to do the same.
At the moment, Brixton Village is made up of independent businesses and still very much a part of the wider market. Most of the traders are local to Brixton or have a very strong connection to the area and care deeply about the market and its impact on the community. I hope the book helps remind people of that and encourage them to support them. I hope it is only one of many chapters in the life of Brixton Village rather than a footnote. But most of all, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it…