October 28 marked the second birthday of The People’s Kitchen in Hackney, a great project that shows that the best ideas are the simplest. Every Sunday volunteers gather at Passing Clouds in Dalston. They set out on bikes to collect food which would otherwise be thrown away by nearby corner shops and groceries. And then the volunteers reconvene at Passing Clouds at 3pm to cook up a vegetarian banquet with whatever they have managed to forage. There’s a communal meal around 6pm – diners make a donation – and then a film is shown.
“The kitchen celebrates people power. Many hands make light work, and many bodies and minds make for a beautifully social atmosphere both in the kitchen and the dining room.”
The project is a sociable one and it also – in a very practical way – makes an important point. That as a society we are throwing away food which may be a day or two past its sell-by date but which is still perfectly edible. In Britain we’re chucking away 4.4 million tonnes of food annually, and in the process wasting £680 a year per household.
For its birthday party The People’s Kitchen fed an impressive 150 people, with the dinner, discussion and film packed out. In the makeshift kitchen beforehand activity was intense, with lots of chopping, frying and stirring, and buckets of apples being juiced with equipment provided by The London Orchard Project. Eat Hackney met volunteer Alicia, who also runs the Parkholme Supper Club. Alicia was busy preparing beetroot salad, and turning cratefuls of donated bananas into gorgeous Malay fritters: recipes are below.
If you want to volunteer in a warm and communal environment, if you have surplus fruit or veg in your own garden to donate, or if you’d like a nourishing veggie meal on a Sunday in Hackney, The People’s Kitchen could be for you. Eat Hackney wishes it many happy returns.
More experienced cooks share skills and recipes at The People’s Kitchen. Here are two recipes from Alicia who runs the Parkholme Supper Club. The salad is easy to make with cheap corner-shop ingredients, but has quite a tangy and sophisticated taste. Kueh Kodok are yummy round banana fritters. Alicia says, “this is a type of Malaysian banana fritter my mother used to eat as a child. Kueh Kodok is the proper name but it’s also known as Jumput Pisang, banana balls.”