Food & Drink

Rosie Lovell on good food & friendship

The GWG talks food, gigs and brain haemorrhages with the enterprising young deli owner and author.

Five years ago, after finishing her History of Art degree at Edinburgh University, Rosie Lovell set up Rosie’s Deli Café in Brixton market. Since then she has welcomed an eclectic mix of hungry customers from across the globe and counts Basement Jaxx amongst some of her most enthusiastic fans. Between juggling orders, serving up her famous scrambled eggs, going to gigs and taking time out to recover from a brain haemorrhage that nearly killed her two years ago, Rosie found the time to write her first book, Spooning with Rosie: Food, Friendship and Kitchen Loving, which is published by Fourth Estate this June. The Good Web Guide steals five minutes with the enterprising young cook.

I opened Rosie’s nearly 5 years ago. I wanted to be in the thick of a community, cook from the market, and not wear heals to work!

I chose Brixton because... Brixton was near where me and my dad lived, Peckham, and it seemed so exciting and different from my Suffolk upbringing. Full of colour and life, and also people who work in loads of industries. Loads of my customers are freelance, so have time to come in and hangout.

We have lots of colourful customers. Everyone from joe the local prophet, through basement jaxx to Zezi, and an amazing film director who shall remain nameless! But there’s also all the daily people who keep me going: journalists, council workers, students, young mums and my friends.

My average day at the deli starts by... whacking on the music. This week I’ve been listening to toddla t. It’s always busy for me at the beginning preparing humous, taking deliveries and putting out the day's bread. Then there’s the breakfast rush of scrambled eggs, a little more cooking and then the queue of sandwich buyers, eager to get their fix. Usually there’s an afternoon lul where I can make muesli and cakes and chat with whomever is killing time. Then I do a lot of cleaning, rush home, get changed and go out.

My most popular dish is... definitely scrambled eggs. Yesterday I think I made about 30 plates of it. It comes on our delicious bread – sometimes sourdough, sometimes onion or walnut, and along with a pot of chilli jam. It’s the perfect hangover cure.

Since my brain haemorrhage two yrs ago... my food tastes have changed a little. I now love brown rice, and can’t even be near coriander it makes me feel so ill. It was a mad thing to happen to someone so young and I try and be a bit more philosophical now. I pledged to take things more easy but appear to be busier than ever!

Food has a lot to do with memory to me. The people that you experienced a certain thing with. Like doctor helen’s mascarpone cheese cake that we made when we were 11, and still do. Of course there’s the romantic ones too, remembering oysters in Borough market. Revisiting these foods takes you right back to the moment.

The shop is like an extension of my home... and so it feels familiar and comforting. There’s old china, and homely food and no fuss so everyone is at ease. But all my customers are equally as important to me. Alan the teacher brings as much joy to me as anyone else.

My failsafe hangover cure... used to be a full fry-up with my best friends, plus a pint of smoothie and about 10 coffees. Now it’s a little more mature and tends towards a single fried egg with Lingham’s chilli sauce.

I was inspired to write the book as... I just felt like there were so many recipes whizzing around my head, it’d be good to write them down. Then someone told me there was a writing competition online and I entered. This got me my agents. Then it was all a bit of a snowball and now I have this beautiful book!

My latest food memory is... from a recent trip to Sydney in January. I love waking up early on holiday and going out for coffee. This is a solitary delight and I found a lovely café with perfect flat whites and these little puff pastry pots filled with a whole egg and pancetta. It was breakfast perfection and I enjoyed every last morsel all to myself. Then I conceded and took one back to my snoring boyfriend.

I’m not sure I hold the keys to being a good cook. All I want anyone to do is enjoy themselves whilst cooking and make sure that it’s an inclusive thing. Food is for sharing, and loving. My parents always had an open kitchen and that’s what I want.

Food is the best medicine... It’s the first thing I think of in the morning. And often when I’m half way through a meal, I’m working out what I want for my next. I might just be greedy.

My favourite recipe in the book is... I love all the recipes that are economical though – like an omelette using leftovers and eggs en cocotte with left over pasta sauce. I like running a tight ship.

I’ve got a few ideas for another book. I loved the whole process of making a book so much I’d love the chance to do it again. Mostly though I’m planning on enjoying the summer, going to France with a bunch of friends, and trying to get a ticket for Glastonbury (anyone got a spare one?!)

Spooning with Rosie: Food, Friendship & Kitchen Loving is published by Fourth Estate on 11th June 09.

Read our review
Pre-order the book

Visit Rosie at Rosie’s Deli Café, 14e Market Row, Brixton Market, London, SW9.

To view more of Rosie’s recipe’s and read about Rosie’s Deli Café, visit her website here. To read Rosie's blog, click here.

Photo credit: Julian Humphries

Interview by Emily Jenkinson

9th May 09