By Concepta Cassar, published on Litro Magazine‘s website, 16th July 2015
There are two places remaining in Wandsworth’s ever-changing landscape that formed an integral part of my early epicurean lessico famigliare : Hennessy’s butchers and Tooting Market. The rest have fallen away in time, succumbing to the slow but continuous gentrification of the area, and the death of many of its small traders and traditional industries. The sickly-sweet smell of yeast from the Ram Brewery no longer fills the air on certain days of the week – as it did for almost half a millennium – and the sounds of its majestic shire horses fell silent almost a decade ago. The historic site has since been purchased by a Chinese development company, and, like many other places in London, is set to be turned into “an exciting new residential and retail quarter” . Because we need more of those.
My paternal grandparents immigrated to London in the 1950s, arriving in Wandsworth from Malta and the Amalfi Coast. Both had experienced the ravishes of extreme poverty during the War, and came to London in hope of starting a better life. To the neighbours’ dismay, my grandmother kept chickens and rabbits in the garden to help feed her burgeoning family, bringing with her a tradition of cucina povera that her younger brother would later champion all over the world.