When it comes to my appetite for travel, and my greed for exploring new sights and cultures, I’m insatiable.
Sometimes though, I’m just hungry.
Which is why I immediately accepted an invitation from Fox & Squirrel to eat my way through Brixton on their Guardian-approved walking tour. Little did I know, however, that the experience would take me well and truly beyond the confines of SW9.
It is well known that Brixton has a diverse population; the first wave of African-Caribbean immigrants arrived on the Empire Windrush in 1948 and since then, the area has developed a distinct and complex multiethnic identity. As my tour group and I huddled on the corner of Brixton Station Road, our hosts Penelope (co-founder of Fox & Squirrel) and Lindsay Faller (food journalist) explained to us that Brixton currently finds itself in the midst of a gentrification debate; regeneration in the area – although seen as a good thing by many – has sparked fears that Brixton may lose its unique flavour.
As a newbie to the area, I can say that for me at least, Brixton is certainly not lacking in flavour. Not figuratively, and certainly not literally.
In the space of one Saturday afternoon my taste buds and I were taken around the world. I had a taste of Ethiopia, taking part in a frankincense-hazed coffee ceremony and tucking into a traditional platter of injera bread, stewed meat, lentils and salad; I was transported to Colombia with one bite of slow-cooked pork belly and rice; and I got a warm Caribbean welcome at the amusingly-named Fish, Wings & Tings – in the form of moreish cod fish fritters, aromatic goat roti, and of course, our charming host, Brian.
Elsa our Ethiopian coffee queen.
Over the course of four hours we munched our way through 7 courses – including sublime salted caramel gelato, golden empanadas and Brixton-brewed beer.
Salted caramel gelato, Ethiopian coffee, Hot ginger beer and rum, and an empanada.
Cod fish fritters at Fish, Wings & Tings
It was a great way to try out food I might not have had the guts to order by myself - and believe me when I say the portions were more than generous. I even got to take a goody bag of leftovers home with me!
Penelope and Lindsay are unmistakably passionate about the future of local businesses, and extremely knowledgeable about the history of Brixton Market; each stop and specific taster on this tour has been chosen with extreme care and relationships with the owners cultivated so as to expose and champion (rather than exploit) the fascinating stories behind each business. As I nommed my way through each dish (yes, I’m using it as a verb), I was simultaneously learning about the country it came from, and the locale in which I was eating it. Clever stuff.
Eating my way through Brixton was so much more than a walking tour. It was an education in social awareness; an entertaining insight into the mind-blowingly rich history of one tiny corner of our sprawling city; it was an opportunity to meet fascinating people – people whom I may have simply breezed past had I come to Brixton on my own. The tour reignited my enthusiasm for exploring London and for that I am truly grateful – that and the satisfyingly full belly.
I was invited to take part in this walking tour by Fox & Squirrel. Opinions are 100% my own.