Every Culture’s Cuisine at Brick Lane Food Market by James Robertson
More and more cities across the world are becoming more and more multicultural. Some have even become hubs for cultural diversity, like Berlin or Melbourne. However, I want to take you to London. A city where you could meet someone from every country on the planet. I haven’t made certain of that myself, but you can always try.
Nowhere was this more apparent to me than on the last time I visited Brick Lane. On a brisk, but not too chilly, Sunday afternoon, in the midst of January, my girlfriend and I trekked across the north of London. We had managed to peruse about Camden Market and climb to the top of Primrose Hill already that day. We hadn’t planned to fit Brick Lane into our packed schedule, but, thankfully, time was working in our favour.
The street was packed and bustling. Brick Lane, hemmed in constantly by its namesake building material, wasn’t the brightest or most appealing street for a market. But it more than made up for it with the hubbub and liveliness that accompanied the numerous stalls that lined the sides of the road.
Although the sun had shone its rays the whole day, the peaks of the factory-style buildings were so tall that they eclipsed the day’s remaining light. Returning our coats’ zippers to their fullest extent, the very beginnings of the cold night’s approach started to seep into our bodies.
As we walked down the road, the side of a glass-panelled building caught our eye. Inside was more packed than out, with numerous coloured food stalls tightly lining the space. We hastily went inside and were in awe of the huge variety of food that was on offer.
This is where the multiculturalism of London wowed me. As we traipsed slowly through the market hall, we inspected each stall in amazement. Steam rose from wide pots. Pans were set to boil. Freshly cooked meats and the most delectable of sweets wafted their enticing smells around our nostrils.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that there were more cultures’ cuisines on display than I can even remember. But there were at least the following: Korean, Chinese, Indian, Turkish, Moroccan, Spanish, Japanese, Ethiopian, African-Caribbean, Thai, Colombian and Italian. I can guarantee that list is even longer.
Believe me, it was a struggle to decide what to eat. We wanted to try a cuisine we’d never had before, but even choosing from that smaller list was difficult. I finally came to the decision that I would try a Somalian meat wrap, while my girlfriend came to choose Lithuanian dumplings. What a combination!
My choice was delicious, with lamb and veggies all encased inside a really thick and tasty wrap. The Lithuanian dumplings were mixed with an assortment of cheese, fried mushrooms, pork and sour cream; a dish that, even though the serving was modest, she found difficult to finish. But they were both thoroughly delicious meals.
We joked that if we ever moved to London, we would come to this exact market every Sunday afternoon and never get bored. An enticing prospect indeed. It just goes to show the infinite possibilities that a multicultural city can create!