Finding Fresh Food In London

London, Observatory

Last year I wrote a story called ‘Killing The Cook’, in which an inner city housewife attempts to kill the TV chef Nigella Lawson because she is unable to live up to the cook’s demandingly upmarket lifestyle.

The story was inspired by a real problem. In one of Lawson’s cookbooks she said ‘Get your butcher to spatchcock a chicken’. As a test, a newspaper tried to get supermarket butchers to spatchcock a chicken – not one in six could do it. I live in an area with hardly any butchers and certainly no decent greengrocers. When I say that, it’s not true in global terms; where you live, you may think nothing of going ten miles to a grocery store, but for many Londoners a mile is the upper limit of foraging. I have one small, expensive supermarket and a weekend farmers’ market in the immediate neighbourhood, but a little further on are shops of amazing quality. The problem, then, is one of time.

But supermarkets are narrowly stocked in London. In the grocery dept. you can get sprouts but no sorrel (my favourite vegetable), spinach but no salsify or samphire. Many cuts of meat are notable by their complete absence; mutton, rabbit, game. Many people don’t realise that the city vegetable markets rate their stock numerically for quality, the best going to top restaurants, the worst going to supermarkets.

Now a company called Hubbub has come up with a brilliant idea. Independent city food shops are packed out at the weekends but quiet during the week – so in order to keep them busy during the quiet times, you can now buy their produce collected together on a website within a one-hour delivery slot, here.

6 comments on “Finding Fresh Food In London”

  1. Helen Martin says:

    The best thing about eggplant – or aubergine – is that incredible colour. The vegetable itself has very little taste but that glossy deep colour is fabulous. Those are obviously first grade aubergine, not a bruise or flaw anywhere. Not so sure about the stripy ones. And what *does* spatchcock mean? My computer is suggesting it isn’t a word, I see.

  2. Dan Terrell says:

    –”Killing the Cook” is the tenth story in Red Gloves, volume 1, Devilry, a shorter short story, but not a sweet one. (And tell me was Bryant & May’s Mystery Tour, story number 12 in the same volume of Red Gloves, the story that out sold that other writer’s short? Mystery Tour was offered as a Kindle download by Amazon/UK and he-who-shall-not-be-named-nor-promoted-by-Christopher’s-blog also had a Kindle downloadable story, didn’t he?)
    The story The Eleventh Day, first off in Red Gloves, volume 2, Infernal, reminded me of a sub-plot in Soho Black. (You did recently suggest we look for your themes, correct?) The Girl On Mount Olympus, the third story in the same volume, reminded me of an old EC horror comic story: maze built in basement, no lights, razor blades, bulldog. I liked your version better, but it hurt just as much, maybe more, to read it.
    –The other eggplant in the basket is basically just an eggplant, but quite good. We can get several eggplant types where we live at good prices due to our wide spectrum of neighbors. It sounds like you are living in the capital’s exciting midst, Admin, but paying a price with little variety in food. We can even get fresh Durian and Jack Fruit, here; not that a sane person would want to eat it after smelling them. Those you haven’t written about yet, have you?

  3. Jon R says:

    Sounds a bit like Abel & Cole

  4. Alan Morgan says:

    Downside to living in the inner city. We’ve got three proper butchers, greengrocers, everything that you’d expect in a high street both completely occupied and aside from the banks devoid of any chain stores (Cockermouth is almost unique in this). On the other hand we’ve only the one arts venue. So swings and roundabouts. We’ve also got swings and roundabouts.

  5. Helen Martin says:

    We can get jack fruit in our suburban area as well as halel meat, Greek staples, and English brands. Lots of options for passover, too, with that coming up. Lots of Chinese vegetables and fruit, including star fruit. There is a large Chinese grocery (T&T). When I think about it, our whole suburb has developed a very United Nations look, although the Caribbean restaurant Kiss You Mama seems to have left, replaced by a Turkish outfit.

  6. Helen Martin says:

    We can get jack fruit in our suburban area as well as halel meat, Greek staples, and English brands. Lots of options for passover, too, with that coming up. Lots of Chinese vegetables and fruit, including star fruit. There is a large Chinese grocery (T&T). When I think about it, our whole suburb has developed a very United Nations look, although the Caribbean restaurant Kiss You Mama seems to have left, replaced by a Turkish outfit. Oh and our merry go round is celebrating its 100th year this year.

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