Discovering the world on London’s Blackstock Road


London is famous for its cultural diversity, with more than a third of the population foreign-born, but the Blackstock Road in north London offers an even richer, microcosmic mix of nationalities. The street is mainly working-class London, with an eclectic mix of shops and restaurants reflecting the area’s many nationalities, religions and cultures. From the Algerian butcher Al Bahia, which sells spicy rotisserie chickens, to the Ethiopian café and deli St Gabriel, to the oldest shop on the street, the enigmatically named MK, the 1km stretch offers a global, unpretentious and infinite choice of food and products from Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe.

The area is home to a nearby mosque, Emirates Stadium, the home stadium of Arsenal Football Club, and low rents, which have all contributed to the area’s multiculturalism. Blackstock Road has also embraced young, hip Brits who show how this global capital welcomes immigrants. Family businesses dominate the area, permitting only one small chain supermarket to squeeze in. However, the street is changing, with other nationalities and religions moving in, making the area even richer in culture and diversity.

The Algerian butcher, Al Bahia, owned by three brothers, Hakim, Kemal and Fetah Amokrane, serves not only Muslims but everyone in the community. This family business offers North African olive oils and dates, baklava, French cheeses and spicy merguez sausages in addition to rotisserie chickens. Across the street, the oldest shop on the street, MK, is a father-and-son emporium offering a dizzying array of spices, rices and beans, as well as hibiscus tea and medjoul dates. The Uyghur restaurant and takeaway Dilara, owned by Abdul and Rose Axmu, who escaped persecution in Xinjiang, offers a taste of Xinjiang’s cuisine.

Blackstock Road may not be scenic or ritzy, but it is an excellent place to taste and discover the world. From Africa to the Middle East, Asia and Europe, the choice is infinite and unpretentious. The street is a microcosm of multicultural London, where anyone can travel the world and taste new foods without leaving the city.

Source: BBC