There is this moment, when you plan for months for something when you’re finally ready: the stall is set up, the food is cooking, the market has taken shape and suddenly you think: Oh my god, what if no one comes? What if no one buys anything? Are my prices too high? Too low?
This was my first market of my any kind, and I was really nervous. I had been enlisting friends, brother’s girlfriends and co-workers help for the past 4 weekends – bottling ginger beer, brewing chutney, slicing cucumbers endlessly. I had put money I didn’t really have towards my ingredients and supplies and I had tested the patience threshold of my flatmates both in terms of how long they were willing to put up with a lingering smell of vinegar in our lounge and most disastrously, how close to death they were willing to come when 4 glass bottles of ginger beer exploded in our kitchen spraying thousands of tiny shards of glasses everywhere in what became known as ‘the great ginger beer explosion’. And now it was time to see if it would pay off.
But my concerns were unfounded – despite tube difficulties and a lingering threat of rain, more than 250 people came through the wonderful and accommodating Ms. MarmiteLover’s Kilburn flat to peruse, munch and weave their way through over 30 stalls selling everything from vintage crockery to toasties to cocktails to aprons to chutneys to cushions to lassis.
It became clear quite early that my worries about not selling anything were unfounded – my chutneys moved steadily (though strangely the morning customers preferred them to the afternoon) and the drinks were a giant hit – both with fellow traders and the general public. There was something so rewarding about repeat customers coming back for more, or come to try something different as they enjoyed their first drink so much.
Almost everything I brought moved well. The big hits of the day were far and away my cucumber gin and rosemary lavender vodka (I made the mistake of only bringing one 750ml bottle of the latter). Close behind this in popularity was my ginger beer, then came elderflower cordial and prosecco and Victorian lemonade with my liqueurs moving slowly, but providing so much space for conversation and sampling they more than made up for it. I got many requests for bottles as Christmas presents, and a full 75 of my cards were taken. In terms of response it was beyond my wildest expectations of what would come of the day.
The problem with having such a busy stall was that I had barely any spare time to actually shop around myself! I did get to sample a lot of the food, and my favourites by far were Can be Bribed with Food’s delicious empanadas, John the Poacher’s crayfish and mushrooms, Anna Mae’s pulled pork sandwiches (wish I’d had a full one to myself) and the jerk chicken of da Carribean Undagroun. I came home with Halloumi from Handyface, sausages from Squisito supperclub, and Beetroot chutney from Yum Yum Chutney. It must have been divine intervention that prevented me from hitting up Bristol vintage’s stall and coming home with more antique crockery and spending all my profits.
There were so many other stalls that were worth mentioning and I’m naming just a few. A special mention must go to the amazing sets of live music played for us by the Spanner Jazz Punks – nothing made people more thirsty than their live music and for that I’m eternally grateful.
Towards the end of the day when I finally had a moment I was able to track down our hostess, who managed to do the whole day in heels, to make sure she at the very least had a drink in her hand when she collapsed from exhaustion. Her adventurous spirit is what makes events like this possible – and for all the great people I got to meet and good food I got to eat, I’d like to extend some warm thanks.
Finally, I’ll be putting together a list of infused alcohols available to order for people interested in doing some early Christmas shopping or wanting something a bit different for their next dinner party. For other blogs about the day, visit Marmite at http://marmitelover.blogspot.com