Ridley Road Market: Gözleme and Gungo Peas at a 19th Century Street Market

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Ridley Road Market may be the only place in London where you can buy a fake “Versache” handbag, a cow foot, and a yam heavy enough to kill someone with. Dazzling yet shabby, abundant yet decaying, the East London street market is a ramshackle bazaar of contradictions. Home to 125 food and clothes stalls, it stocks a never-ending range of Caribbean, African, Asian, and English groceries. Perfectly crowned pomegranates give way to razor-sharp aloe vera leaves. Bajan Hot Pepper Sauce sits beside mountains of raw tripe. Pint-sized, bottle-green avocados outshine bruised plantain and brittle saltfish.  was born and raised in Dalston, minutes away from Ridley Road, and the market has always had a presence in my life. If I wanted to get anywhere, I had to pass its rotting fruit aroma and the metallic odor of butcher blood. From being chased and gently reprimanded for nicking strawberries as a kid to buying 50p mascara and developing conjunctivitis as a teenager, my magpie eyes were always drawn to the delights of Ridley Road. Read more on MUNCHIES – VICE…


Inside the Secretive Kitchens of Britain’s North Korean Refugees


London might be one of the food capitals of the world but there is one cuisine you will struggle to find. Rarer than bluefin tuna, scarcer than white truffles, more exclusive than Almas Caviar, is North Korean food. Despite the fact that there are 1,000 North Korean refugees currently living in Britain, there are no North Korean restaurants in the UK. Nor cafes. Nor grocery shops, for that matter. While South Korean fare lines British high streets—commandeered by trendy street food vans or fused with Mexican cuisine to create “Korexican”—North Korean food remains curiously unobtainable. Perhaps this is unsurprising when you consider that North Korea is the most secretive, isolated regime in the world. Read more on MUNCHIES – VICE…


An Urban Farm Is Teaching Ex-Offenders to Grow Salad Leaves


“Growing up in Exeter in a family of born-again Christians, I quickly started using drugs, motorbikes, music, and all that kind of stuff. But unlike most addicts, I was able to stop because I had experience of what it was like to work.” This is the story of Steve Glover. After recovering from his own addiction problems, Glover completed a degree in addictions counselling and set up the Severn Project, an urban farm located on the outskirts of Bristol. The project employs people from socially excluded demographics, including those recovering from drug and alcohol misuse, people with poor mental health, and ex-offenders. Read more on MUNCHIES – VICE…


Not Just Sourdough: The Feminist Artisan Bakery Run By Women Who Are Ex-Offenders


Nestled between BBC Northampton and a quadruple-fronted Jobcentre sits the Northampton Boot and Shoe Quarter. Surrounded by neatly stacked rows of red-bricked terraces and boarded up shoe factories, it’s hard to imagine that trade was once booming here. Wandering past the graffiti-smothered shop windows, I approach my destination. Once home to an RAF boots factory, the building has been turned into an artisan bakery and café. But unlike most fiver-a-sourdough-loaf establishments, The Good Loaf is staffed by female ex-offenders. Read more on the New Statesman…


It’s Not a Rosh Hashanah Feast Without Honey


As the years go by, Jewish new year seems more appealing than the one we celebrate in January. Instead of welcoming in the year with disappointing club nights, awkward midnight snogs, and surge charge Ubers, you get to gorge on honey cake. Rosh Hashanah began last night and if you follow the Jewish calendar, which is lunar, the year is officially 5776. As a kid, the celebration always stood out to me. This was probably because my mum would bake a seemingly endless supply of honey cake that lasted for weeks. There was enough in my packed lunch to pacify the steeliest of teachers and the most belligerent of bullies. Read more on VICE – MUNCHIES…


This Is What It’s Like to Cook Subsidised Meals for British Politicians

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For the price of a KFC family bucket, members of the House of Lords—the unelected chamber of UK parliament that works with the House of Commons to shape British law—can enjoy a two course meal and a glass of wine. “The menu here changes every single week,” Mikey*, a chef at the House of Lords, tells me. “If lords sign in to vote, they get £300 tax-free expenses for the day and they can go spend it down our restaurant, which is already subsidised.” The meals enjoyed by members of the House of Lords are subsidised by British taxpayers. Last year, catering in the Houses of Parliament cost the taxpayer £6 million. Having worked as a chef in the House of Lords for five years, Mikey knows the place inside out. Read more on VICE – MUNCHIES…


Making Dumplings for Strangers Is My Way of Helping My Family in Nepal

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I cancelled last week’s supper club when I heard about the earthquake. I was about to set off to buy ingredients but I couldn’t bring myself to go. In a panic, I tried to call every single one of my family members but nobody answered. Helpless and powerless, I even considered jumping on a plane to Nepal. When I finally got through to my mum, after hours of trying, she was saying things that didn’t make any sense. Trapped on the fourth floor of our house, she thought she was going to die because she couldn’t jump out the window or get to the bottom floor. Finally, she managed to reach the ground floor by literally hanging onto the railings of the stairs. Our house in Kathmandu has been destroyed and all the walls have fallen down. The temples that were part of my identity and heritage are now gone. Read more on VICE – MUNCHIES…


Lahmacun Is Turkey’s Answer to Thin and Crispy Pizza


My love affair with the lahmacun started at the school gates. Every day, I would climb through the hole in the school fence to buy a score’s worth at the local kebab shop. Armed with bulging plastic bags of supplies, we would then scramble back into the playground where the wraps would be dutifully distributed for a 50p mark-up. Forbidden from leaving school for lunch and disillusioned with insipid school dinners, the black market for contraband lunches became a big thing. As well as being a nice little earner for those who were plucky enough to scale the school gates, it totally diversified the available lunch options. Read more on VICE – MUNCHIES…


Brewing Beer Has Always Been A Woman’s Game

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The brewing industry might still be seen by many as a bearded boy’s club, but “brewsters”—the medieval term for a female brewer—have been killing it forever. In ancient Egypt, beer was traditionally brewed by women, giving them a way to earn extra cash and bartered goods. The gods were often given offerings of beer, especially Tjenenet, the ancient Egyptian goddess of both beer and childbirth. While the Greeks saw wine as a man’s drink, beer was considered effeminate, and thus was made and consumed by women. Throughout medieval Britain, wives would brew beer in the close confines of the domestic sphere for all the family to swig throughout the day. The beer was made from grain and water, and then fermented with yeast to brew for a day in large, cauldron-like pots. Early beer might have resembled miry puddle water, but it was awash with minerals and far safer to consumer than water. Read more on VICE – MUNCHIES…


London’s Dining Scene Is Killing Off Jellied Eel Shops


In the corner of every pie and mash shop, a vat of once writhing eels can be found steaming away beneath the window. Eels have been traditional cockney staples since the mid 1800s. They are the jewel in the crown of the London’s oldest fast food joint, an institution which has been around even longer than the fish and chippy. These unchanging establishments are unique to London and embody a former era of working-class England. Read more on VICE – MUNCHIES…


Eating Alone in Prison Is Miserable

Fork in the road

Fork in the road

Prison grub tends to be a bit of a mystery to those on the outside. The days of lining for a sloppy ladleful of gruel are mostly over, but if porridge is no longer staple scran for inmates, what do they eat? A friend of mine, “Josho,” is an ex-prisoner who has had various runs with custodial cuisine in the UK. According to him, processed meat and instant noodles are the new gruel, and the daily menus available to inmates are both unimaginative and monotonous. Not only that, but the wait between mealtimes can be as excruciating as the meal itself. Read more on VICE – MUNCHIES…

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