This afternoon I took quick trip to the market with my mother. Where did we go? Ridley Road Market in Dalston, East London. As a child I spent many a Saturday afternoon here with my parents and sibling completing the weekly shop for Nigerian food. We would all pile into the car and drive across town. Then we would have a battle about who would be the one allowed out of the car to follow our parents (after they had decided who was getting out!). It’s not much different coming back as an adult – I am still trailing behind my mother, carrying the shopping and interested in anything other than the mission at hand!
Today was a typical Saturday – hustle and bustle, noise and colour.
I was standing opposite this stall, minding my own business, when the owners of the stall, started talking to me. The man on the left is from Iraq. He told me that he had been in the UK since 2000. When I asked him if he was planning to return he said not yet. I think he missed the place because he then took out his mobile phone and started showing me pictures of him and his family in Iraq – rivers, mountains, outdoor eating. They looked like happy days. He said now, that amongst other things, his country had been ruined by oil, the love of money and corrupt government.
Despite his comments we bought stockfish from the stall. Stockfish is dried fish that comes from Norway. Nigerians use it in their soup that accompanies food such as pounded yam, Àmàlà and ground rice. It is quite “chewy” but very tasty.
There is so much food! The fruit and vegetables catch my eye because of the colours and textures.
I have not eaten yam for many years now. We did not buy any today but if I had, I would taken them home, boiled them and eaten them with a little oil and salt. Very simple but very tasty.Yam was always a treat when we were growing up.
If I had not been carrying 3 bags of shopping – I would have liked to have stayed and taken more pictures of market life. These ladies are buying plantain. Plantain is a another food from my childhood – fried and salted and served with rice – absolutely delicious.
I also used to pass through the market when I worked in Hackney as a registrar in 2009. Those were busy but pleasant days. I would come out of Dalston Kingsland station in the morning and buy a bagel and a hot chocolate at the bagel shop. In the evening I would buy coconut juice and a museli bar before I got back on the train. I would just marvel at the fact that fate had brought me back to this place after so many years.