Finally, finally….after much anguish, many phone calls and a couple of engineer visits, I am back online. Phew! We are now on the halfway point between East Dulwich and Peckham Rye, which has opened up a whole new world of influences and ingredients.
Peckham has a bad reputation, but has been the focus of an intensive programme of regeneration. Don’t get me wrong, it’s far from perfect, but the area has a buzz about it – a happy, energetic vibe. It’s noisy and vibrant and I love it. The mix of cultures here means there is a huge variety of ingredients available; shops piled high with exotic produce compete against each other with loud music. There’s a really diverse community of people, Caribbean, Bangladeshi, Nigerian, Eastern European and more. It’s exciting and fresh – like a whole new world for my taste buds! If you really want to get a sense of the place however, I urge you to pick up a copy of ‘Persia in Peckham’ by Sally Butcher. Sally and her husband run a shop called ‘Persepolis’, selling all manner of things Iranian, including some really exciting ingredients. How lucky am I? I’ve just moved to the area and I find this famous little gem right on my doorstep! Sally includes a chapter called ‘the Peckham influence’ which celebrates the diversity and energy of this community. It’s really absorbing.
The book reads in the same way as the best ones always do, like a story. Well, it is a story, Sally tells us how she has embraced the culture of Persia, about her family and of course, the food they share. ‘Persia in Peckham’ is one of those books where you can’t decide what to make first. I end up frantically flicking between pages, ‘I want to try this, and this and this….’ Here’s a few I managed to pin down……
Persepolitan roast stuffed chicken (roasted with fruits, nuts and spices).
Broad bean balls (rice, minced lamb, herbs with yoghurt sauce).
Mackerel pan fried, coated in hemp and sesame crumble.
Sour cherry rice.
Rose, raspberry and almond roulade.
The way Sally opens the door to Persian cuisine is so inviting. She explains the cornerstones of the Iranian way of eating, the ingredients that pop up over and over; mountains of fresh herbs, rice, pomegranates, saffron…I’m working up to ‘Fried Brains’. I don’t think I’m quite ready for that one…
NB: I’ll be visiting Persepolis as soon as soon as possible. If anyone else has been, please, please let me know everything!