Tell us about your project?
FOS (Food On Sunday) is a dry store and fresh produce cafe that will be open on the last Sunday of the month at Red Door. The idea behind FOS is that while East Ham has some great places for food and produce, in terms of sourcing locally grown produce, particularly organic produce, this can be a bit trickier. Essex is just up the road and there are a few organic farms in East London not so very far from East Ham. Hopefully, FOS will be a place where you will be able to get the produce from these places and, should you want to, stop for a coffee, something to eat and a chat as well.
Alongside this we will also be providing a few practical goods for the store cupboard / larder and home that you can top up on each month and use in your cooking every day.
What role do you feel food plays in our personal lives and our communities?
The most important thing, personally, is that it’s not a competition. I watched an episode of Master Chef the other day and, whilst it’s great as a TV programme, it’s emphasis on cooking as some kind of mystical art form is frustrating to me. Everyone can cook, and nothing brings more joy than a dish you’ve made yourself, shared with the people you love and live with. Food should be inclusive and reciprocal in what it gives. Supermarkets offer short cuts with ready meals or pre-packaged goods but it’s a false economy and I don’t think it actually saves you any time or money. A soup can take twenty minutes to make, will taste better than anything you can buy, will cost you very little and last you a few dinners.
In terms of community, food should be at the centre of it. Of course, it has always been like this. I was reading John Marriott’s History of East London. There’s a bit in it about recent research on food culture in East London in the late 19th century and how this research challenges the widely held beliefs that families of the labouring poor were malnourished. In fact, food was of great importance, families were knowledgeable about food and resourceful in providing wholesome, regular and nourishing meals, from which they derived a sense of respect and pride within their own homes and the wider community.
It was vital to survival and you’re more likely to go round someone’s house if there’s a tasty meal in it.
Tell us about one dish you will be serving at Red Door….
For Sunday we’ll be getting our fresh produce from a community farm in Dagenham, so I’m expecting they’ll still have plenty of courgettes. If they do I’ll be doing Kolokithokeftedes. It’s a dish from Crete. Courgette, feta cheese and mint fritters served with home made tzatziki. You’re supposed to pan fry them, but when I tried that I ended up with a pretty unmanageable mess. I’ll bake them instead, the healthier option, or I might deep-fat fry them, not as healthy but very tasty and you’re not going to have them every day.
Foscafe will be open Sunday 30th September from 12 - 6pm and then every last Sunday of the month.
For regular updates follow @foscafe on Instagram.