Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published April 28th 2013
Where you'll find stall after stall after stall
Brixton is a diverse and multicultural area, and its market reflects that. Right outside Brixton Station, the street market travels all the way down to Electric Avenue. It is a hectic place and, if like me, you are not used to crowds, your first visit will be quite overwhelming. I could describe the market as bustling, but I think frantic gives a far more accurate idea of the atmosphere you will encounter. It is like being on the motorway during rush hour - the traders are hollering at the top of their voices, just like angry motorists beeping horns, and the streets are teeming with so much pedestrian traffic that you have to wait for someone to give way before you can get through.
Unlike the motorway, however, there is none of that road rage you get from impatient drivers. In fact, the buskers and lively sellers make you feel welcome, and creates a party mood like that of a night club - only this is in broad daylight.
The types of stalls are as diverse as the community that runs them; you'll find at least a dozen fishmongers & butchers, many of which specialise in halal meat, as well as shoe sellers, a 2nd hand clothes traders, with shirts and trousers selling from £3.
As well as the main market, Brixton Village is home to endless rows of cafes and mobile street food shops with cuisines ranging from Indian, Asian, African, South American, and Caribbean. First it is the smell that entices you forward, and then it is the smoke rising from the grill that finally makes you move in.
The weekend is when the market is at its peak. Between 10am-2pm on Sundays, the farmer's market comes to town, and each Saturday has a certain theme. This week, for example, it was the Brixton Bake off. As you can probably tell, Brixton is a bit to busy for me to feel comfortable, so you were probably wondering why I was there. The Bake Off was the reason. I'll admit that it was not quite what I was expecting - no twee little marquees with homey judges taking dainty bites of cake in a very organised manner; the very British character of the show had been usurped by Brixton's chaotic carnival twist, fusing the multicultural with traditional teatime snacks.
Free cake prize draw.
I was a bit confused about who and what was competing; the judges were nowhere in sight, (I assume they were not going to appear until later in the day) and out of all food there, I only saw one thing labelled as being a contender in the competition. Everything else was simply the trader's usual buffet for sale.
Out of the hundreds of cakes, cookies, fudge, and other sweet treats on offer, my favourite was in fact savoury. One of the first stalls I ran across was run by a Jamaican, whose smile was as colourful as his hat. He baked artisan bread, and had an excellent selection, including rye, pumpkin, and sourdough. I sampled the sourdough with a bit of olive oil and it was amazingly moist, so ended up buying a loaf for £4.
I tried a few samples of the cakes as well, including a standard chocolate brownie, pandan macrons, and butternut squash cake. Both had an unusual combination of flavours that I was not really keen on. I did, however, enjoy some vanilla fudge, which I didn't buy because I would end up eating it all in one go and end up regretting it seconds later.
Although I did not taste any, probably the most eye catching cake on display was a rainbow cake. If it were for visual appearance alone, it would probably have been the winner.
Next Saturday's theme, which is on the 4th May, is the Flea Market, which is like a car boot sale, only with added food. Then on the 11th May, it will be the Makers Market, for homemade fashion, arts & craft, and on the 18th May it will be time for the Retro & Vintage Market, which will include fashion, furnishings, and collectibles.