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On Your Mark, Get Set: Keep Calm and Carry On!

2011 August 30

By Allison Goodings

I read Brianna’s posts last week with such intense jealousy.  A garden.  Oh how I would love to have a garden like the one she writes about, overflowing with the bounties of late August, beautiful vegetables all begging to be harvested and turned into a summery tomato soup.  But alas, like many Londoners, we live in a small one-bedroom flat with no garden, no balcony, and only one very small inside window sill that I am constantly trying to grow herbs on – sometimes successfully, sometimes not.  Green space to grow in is so sought after in our neighborhood, there is a 10-14 year wait for a plot in an allotment or community garden.  In other neighborhoods, the wait can be even longer.

That being said, London does boast some of the most amazing markets in the world. And with the fairly reasonable climate we have here (except for the odd spot of rain!), many markets are open all year long. While some markets have become very touristy and difficult to actually shop in, we like to visit the street markets that are very much rooted in their communities.  And Hackney Broadway Market in East London is one of these markets.

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My father-in-law Trevor sells English cheese at a stall at Broadway Market.  Hackney, like many parts of London, is a very diverse area, with a varied cultural and economic population. Sadly, Hackney was one of the areas in London that was hit by rioting and looting earlier this month.  My husband and I had planned on running the cheese stall for Trevor, who was on vacation, during that very week. Understandably, we were a bit hesitant to set up for business on the first Saturday after that terrible day, but were encouraged by an email we received from the market manager.  Thankfully, the Broadway where the market is held was not targeted by the riots earlier in the week, and the local shops on that stretch were in good shape.  The vendors were asked to come to market that week and set up as usual, in an act of solidarity with this community who very much needed to see things return to normality – the keep calm and carry on attitude that saw Britain through the wars would be invoked here in Hackney and in so many other troubled parts of the city.  We were pleased to be able to support the community any way we could, even if that was just by selling cheese.

The day was a wonderful sunny one and the market was packed full of people from beginning to end, folks out with friends, dogs and baby-strollers, picking up groceries for the week or just snacks for a picnic in nearby London Fields. And we were so very proud to be a part of this community spirit on that day.

During slow moments of the day, I found myself thinking of Brianna’s recipe for cold tomato soup and all the lovely vegetables in her ingredients list – I wondered where I could go from there.  Maybe the basil was speaking to me?  Maybe cucumber?  Not surprisingly, a piece of Cheshire cheese somehow managed to find its way home with us that day – and I just knew that whatever I made for the Relay needed to incorporate this tangy, crumbly, farm-made, very special English cheese in some way.  Because in a small way, that cheese was a part of a larger community movement that day.

I will return with my veggie directed, cheese motivated recipe on Thursday…

Allison Goodings lives in London, England, and is the recipe writer for the Archer, a local community newspaper in East Finchley. When not feeding her friends and family, planning what to cook for her next meal, selling cheese at a local market or daydreaming about asparagus, she works for the Canadian High Commission.

  • Marc

    Looking forward to your recipe.  I love the international exchange of ideas, recipes, and stories.

    • Allison Goodings

      Thanks Marc, I hope you like it!  It’s great to have the relay go international!