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Towpath – Recipes and Stories

In the spring or summer when lockdown from Covid 19 or its variants is over and we can travel and met up with friends again you could well find us in London walking along the Regent’s canal in De Beauvoir Town, London N 1 in search of a canal side café/eaterie called Towpath. We love the Regent’s canal anyway so it will be a pleasure.

Opened a decade or so ago Towpath has become the refuge/sanctuary/ go-to-place of many Londoners and having read the book about it we can quite see why. Apart from its location Towpath must be unique – no website to speak of, no phone, no takeaways.

Flower posies on tables, happy diners

We will know when we have arrived from its rather unusual appearance – four kiosk-like units (decorated with large paintings of coots if closed), with serving counters, and outside tables adorned with posies of flowers, and chairs occupied by happy diners enjoying a coffee or glass of wine, eating yummy looking dishes, maybe something on toast, a bowl of soup, large chunks of cake, tempting salads or something more substantial.  

Porridge – any time

Oh, to start a chilly spring morning with a bowl of Laura’s porridge of walnuts, brown sugar and butter. Utterly decadent and so much more yummy than the porridge I make. Porridge is good any time of the year and in summer with a fruit compote topping it sounds equally delicious.

In fact, all the recipes in this terrific book sound and look delicious. Admittedly some of them are going to be too difficult for us to replicate as we can’t get all the ingredients – but we are prepared to have a go with substitutes.

Laura Jackson – the cook…

The Laura who comes up with the inspirational recipes and indeed cooks most of them, along with making pickles, preserves and ice cream at Towpath, is Laura Jackson who has cooked at Rochelle Canteen and at the Auberge de Chassignolles in France.

…Lori De Mori – the story teller

Interwoven with the recipes and their illustrations, along with delightful pictures of towpath life, are charming and loving narratives from Lori De Mori, the story teller of the duo. Lori already has several books and many articles to her credit – four of the books on Italian cooking and food culture. I must get hold of them.

Tantalising recipes

It is a cookery book for sure with tantalising recipes – along with the porridge I shall be making lemon bars, crispy lamb with hummus, and braised lamb shoulder, the simple roast chicken recipe sounds delicious as does the smoked haddock fish pie, whilst Dawny’s cheesecake too is a must.

Stories of connection, community and simplicity

Apart from sharing stories about the café, Lauri also tells about their friendships with staff and diners who have supported them over the years and about their everyday life on the towpath from March to November when the café is open. And the two women speak of their respect and affection for each other and about the things that are important to them – ‘connection, community, simplicity’. 

More than anything we hope that Laura and Lori open the doors and shutters of Towpath again, that the café survives these weird, surreal covid months.  We love this book, it has become a soothing, inspiring friend, just as the café has to so many people.

Towpath – Recipes and Stories.  Lori De Mori and Laura Jackson. Hardback £25.00. ISBN: 978-1-64502-0212-7. Chelsea Green Publishing. www.chelseagreen.com