One of the books I’ve most admired over the last couple of years is Veggiestan, a vegetarian cookbook which draws inspiration from the jewel bright cuisine of Persia. This was written by corner shopkeeper Sally Butcher, who owns Persepolis, a flourescent yellow fixture, glowingly located in the depths of darkest Peckham. Persepolis flies in exotic produce from Iran several times a week to fill its bursting and colourful shelves. It is a must visit for any food lover. I spent the day helping Sally tend shop as a prelude to a talk about my book as part of the annual Peckham Literary festival.
I’m determined to cook my way through Sally’s books, they are brilliantly written and, as she says ‘recipes just flow’ from her. I’d love to visit Iran, one of the worlds oldest cultures.
|I worked as a shop assistant for the day! I wore my aubergine dress which seemed appropriate for a Persian shop.|
|The flame-haired Sally Butcher, author of Persia in Peckham and Veggiestan, at the till.|
|I love poking around food shops in foreign countries and visiting Persepolis gives a similar thrill. Salted sour cherries, dogberries, rose water sugared ‘maggots’, cookies that are flown in from Iran two or three times a week and infused waters. The latter are used for health purposes in Iran, a kind of homeopathic remedy for ailments. The best known waters over here are orange flower water and rose water, but the Iranians also use willow extract water, mint water, quince seeds, borage water and several others. Aspirin is derived from the willow tree, Iranians will have a few drops of this water in the morning for their health. These are all described in Sally’s fascinating first book ‘Persia in Peckham’|
|Like any decent corner shop, Sally sells an interesting array of goods: dice, dried limes, loofahs, saffron flavoured candy floss and horrible fruit (Senjed, fruit of the Oleander) that taste like cotton wool. To find out more about what she sells, go to her blog.|