Taste London’s best market — with a smartphone

Ridley Road Market Dalston Lon E8 2011 © DA

RIDLEY ROAD Market is London’s, possibly England’s, finest market. Brixton Market in south London will argue but where else can you regularly buy a bunch of bananas — organic, even — for 50p a bowl and a box of avocados for the same? (OK, maybe one or two have to be thrown into the compost bin.)

The Dalston’s street stalls and shops are great, too, for more than just fruit and vegetables — new ideas, even, as in the picture above, which was taken from a popup restaurant last summer.

Adding now to that innovation is a smartphone application, A Taste of Hackney, which can be downloaded without charge. It guides the user through the market, using audio, animation, photography and interviews to bring to life stories of the market, as well as hidden details of food, recipes and lost practices.

It was devised by a local social enterprise, A Different Drum, and with £48,000 of Heritage Lottery funding, involved Colvestone Primary School pupils and Age UK Hackney, working with artists.

Victoria Coker, of A Different Drum, and a film-maker, told Loving Dalston: “We ran three-hour workshops every week over eight months. The app was my idea, developed in consultation with a variety of local residents. It grew out of a desire to celebrate Hackney’s culturally diverse market in the wake of the current boom in artisan food markets in the borough, celebrate immigration in the face of constant derision and attack, and for young and old people to collaborate on a heritage project, thus making social/cultural history of interest to primary age children.”

Ridley Road Market Dalston London 2012
Top, the market can look like a souk — at others it opens like a flower

Some local people will worry that the app is another instance of Dalston trendification. But A Different Drum’s website demonstrates the altruism of the project nicely when it states: “Ridley Road Market receives its own exclusive app to chronicle the changing faces and foods available on the historic market since its humble beginnings in the mid 19th century, its evolution from 1900 to 1950 when its goods reflected the local Jewish community, to its flourishing present day incarnation offering an eclectic mix of British, Turkish, African and West Indian produce.”

Whoops, what about, for starters, Afghans, Bengalis, Indians..? Never mind:  the cultural diversity of the market change by the day. The app sounds great.

David Altheer 130612

* Available for Android and iPhone download from Sat 16 June 2012 but not yet for iPads. Press this link

* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained.

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