A tip from an Italian food expert
By Luigi Conidi
If you come from a Mediterranean country like I do – especially Italy – you will convene that food is perhaps the most important aspect of your life. You may also often regret the lack of texture and taste in your daily bread, which can lead to a single, unhappy and self-defeating talking point: complaining about your food.
However, this needn’t be! Despite the stereotypes, London has developed a quite a varied and original food culture; and excellent fresh produce from the U.K. and abroad can be found on stalls at Borough and Broadway Markets, among others. That is, if you are willing to pay your (un)fair share.
Or, you could be lucky enough to live in Harringay. A leaky flat almost-but-never-quite overlooking the North, inhabited by mice, and swept by the winds of a lazy gentrification. However, even if you don’t live in this humble paradise, it’s still worth it to travel all the way to Green Lanes and walk into Yasar Halim, for this is the food hub of the Turk-Cypriot community in London. With an honourable 30-plus years of history, the grocery shop is an established presence in the lives of locals; and indeed, it is often so authentic as to make one nostalgic. The smiles; the loud voices of friends shouting at each other across the aisles; the inconveniences procured by elderly folk who won’t budge an inch to let you through. And, of course, the flora.
For prices that sometimes rival those of the dingiest discount stores, the quality and variety of Yasar Halim’s greens easily surpasses some of the poshest markets. Here is a chance to break the chain that, in London, firmly ties the state of your liver to your income. Here are people buying good, affordable food not out of class pride, but because it’s good to eat. And you’re one of them. Empowering, innit?
Unconfirmed rumours say Yasar Halim’s produce, fitting the grocer’s relevance, is freshly shipped every day from the South. (This might send your carbon footprint soaring, but if you live in London that means you’re probably at peace with that – or stressed like anybody else). And what produce! Thick and salty Halloumi/Hellim, milked from ewes both sides of the border; spiky, threatening artichokes and fresh yeast for the hopelessly nostalgic – not to mention a parade of olives, from the shop’s very own Olive Heaven. Warm croissants and pastries are also available in the bakery for your hungover carb binges, and the Olive Oil both more delicious and cheaper than in the major supermarkets.
Open seven days a week from Monday to Saturday, the shop closes at 10pm and on Sunday at 6pm. It is the perfect curfew for some last-minute dinner buys, or to quickly snack before delving in the forbidden pleasures of the high street – Green Lanes at night, Turkish delight!
Though the real beneficiaries of this discovery will be your northern euro friends, who will no longer hear you complain about how X tastes inexplicably worse than at home, or why Y and Z don’t really make sense together. You, too, will stop bitching about the food, and focus again on what pleasures you most: eating.
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday: 9am-10pm, Sunday: 10am-6pm
Where: 386-390 Green Lanes, Harringay, N13 5XQ
You may also want to check out the Top 5 London markets.