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2 London 2 Feeds Itself
Good morning and welcome back to Vittles!
We are on a hiatus from The Hater and Cooking from Life this week. If you would like to catch up with all previous columns then you can do so here.
To pre-order a copy of London Feeds Itself, you can do so via Open City’s website https://shop.open-city.org.uk/collections/books/products/london-feeds-itself-2nd-edition
2 London 2 Feeds Itself, by Jonathan Nunn
Last year I edited a book called London Feeds Itself which was published in September 2022 by the brilliant architecture charity Open City. While not officially a Vittles project, the book developed and deepened many of the themes we’ve been covering here over the last three and a half years, particularly on the oscillating, cyclical nature of London and how its varied spaces —church halls, warehouses, industrial parks, mosques, Eruvs, community centres— have incubated a food culture different from (but intertwined with) the usual media image of London as a ‘great food city’. The book was a collective work, made up of 25 interlocking essays and interviews by writers, thinkers and activists working in various fields (from food and agriculture, to architecture and politics) along with 125 restaurant capsules to go alongside them. The book was designed by Rosa Nussbaum of Studio Christopher Victor, illustrated by Anna Hodgson and Harry Darby, supplemented with full colour photography, and included many delightful moving parts (such as a pull-out map, dust jacket and retractable postcards). Like most new parents who have done nothing to merit having a beautiful child, I was unjustifiably proud of it.
Unfortunately, since selling out its initial print run in November, the book has been in limbo due to the prohibitive costs of republishing such an intricately designed book as a small publisher. Releasing a limited product to create the illusion of scarcity may be a common feature of the London food scene, but this was not our intention! Rather, we have spent the last year thinking about the future of the book and what would be best for it, not what would be easiest and quickest. It has necessitated a longer delay than usual, but it now means that we’re thrilled to announce that a new and updated edition of London Feeds Itself will be released in March 2024 co-published by Open City and Fitzcarraldo Editions.
It’s rare to ever get to work with a dream publisher, let alone twice on one book. I’ve been a long-distance admirer of what Jacques Testard and the Fitzcarraldo team have achieved over the last decade (up to and including seemingly fixing the Nobel Prize) and I’m delighted that the new book will be shaped by both their vision and Open City’s generosity. It also means that the second edition, while retaining (nearly) all the essays, will be a radically different proposition to the first. Over the last year, as we’ve released Vittles Restaurants and I’ve started writing reviews, I’ve come to see public service as a more important part of what we do at Vittles, and I have taken this spirit of functionality into the book. Not only will it have an updated design by Rosa Nussbaum and two new essays, but I have rehauled the restaurant sections so they are now the first centralised repository for the restaurant writing I’ve been doing over the last five years. Unlike the first edition (which I know is impossible to properly use to plan dinner!) I fully intend these sections to be used as functional guides to tell you where to eat.
Lastly, the aspect of republishing that I’m most excited about is that we will finally get to put on the series of events we had hoped to do for the first edition of London Feeds Itself. These events won’t just be in the usual bookshops but will be an extension of the themes of the book, taking it into the buildings, neighbourhoods and communities that it covers, from restaurants and community centres to libraries and other public institutions. For reasons I’ve articulated elsewhere, it is important that food writing (particularly restaurant writing) tries to narrow the gap between who gets to write it and who it is writing about, and I hope this goes a little way towards doing that. On a related note, if you happen to work at Palmers Green library then please get in touch!
To pre-order a copy of London Feeds Itself, please do so via Open City’s website https://shop.open-city.org.uk/collections/books/products/london-feeds-itself-2nd-edition
London Feeds Itself
Foreword by Nikesh Shukla
The Port, by Jonathan Nunn
The Church, by Carla Montemayor
The Community Centre, by Jenny Lau
The Settlement, by Mike Wilson
The Garden Suburb, by Claudia Roden
The Shop, by Laura Goodman
The Baths, by Stephen Buranyi
The Canteen, by Rebecca May Johnson
The Housing Estate, by Owen Hatherley
The Shopping Centre, by Aditya Chakrabortty
The Arcades, by Yvonne Maxwell
The Warehouse, by Melek Erdal
The Library, by Sameh Asami (with Nabil Al-Kinani and Sana Badri)
The Club, by Barclay Bram
The Partition, by Ciaran Thapar
The Park, by Santiago Peluffo Soneyra
The Viaduct, by Virginia Hartley
The Market, by Jess Fagin
The Vineyard, by Leah Cowan
The Allotment, by Jeremy Corbyn (with Dee Woods)
The Parlour, by Ruby Tandoh
The Mosque, by Shahed Saleem
The Gurdwara, by Amardeep Singh Dhillon
The Suburbs, by Zarina Muhammad
The A-Road, by Jonathan Nunn
The Airport, by Yemisi Aribisala
Photography by Peter Arkley Bloxham, Zoë Cave, Malcolm Glover, Sirui Ma, Max Miechowski, Hark1karan, Elainea Emmott and Yvonne Maxwell
Design by Studio Christopher Victor
Illustration by Anna Hodgson and Harry Darby
Additional editing by Sophie Whitehead, Adam Coghlan and Molly Pepper Steemson
Many thanks to Open City, Fitzcarraldo Editions, Phineas Harper and Jacques Testard!
Note: The map of London by Anna Hodgson and Harry Darby will not be in the 2nd edition, but will be released separately via Open City’s website.