2017 is the 30th year of Black History Month in the UK and that’s something which can be both celebrated – 30 years of highlighting the contributions made by so many great black men and women – and questioned: if there is to be true equality, why would we separate black history from the rest of world history?
This is the sort of question it’s important to keep hold of but we’re holding firm to celebrating the achievements of people who have been in many cases overshadowed or half-forgotten despite taking humanity forward in so many ways. It also gives us a chance to explore the way the African diaspora has shaped the world, to take a closer look at the way black people have created diverse cultures and influenced so many others. If all this feels a bit heavy, it doesn’t have to – heritage and culture are just other words for living a life informed by the broader community and it can be as simple as the way we mix our spices to an old family recipe or as complex and thought-provoking as the way that black music has shaped pretty much everything you hear on the radio today – and how much of that music was born out of oppression and privation.
We’re going to be spending this month with one eye on the past, shining a light on great black men and women who have gone before us, but the other on the future and how black history is world history. Be great to hear what you think, share with us here or on our social media – this is about all of us!
Now we are six! Can’t believe that the years have flown by so fast – so many good times, friendly faces and of course big-time Jerk! We’ve been here through the London Olympics, seen Stratford blossom in ways we’d never thought possible, gone through tumultuous times shoulder-to-shoulder with all of London and come through stronger.
The one thing that has never changed is the way we do our food. Jerk cooking is a way of life and of all the restaurants in Westfield Stratford you’ll not find any which take it as personally as we do. It’d because we’re a family-run place with just one outlet, not like all the chain places and franchises all around us. The reason it tastes like home cooking is because that’s what it is – there’s no big corporate development kitchen with a team of chefs working on our dishes, we work up our dishes at home in our kitchen! We take what we know, what we learnt growing up and the old recipes from our family and friends and turn them into what we serve up at Rhythm Kitchen. There’s a lot of love in there and it’s all designed to be but one thing – tasty as hell.
We look a likkle different to how we did when we started out, gave ourselves a refresh earlier this year as you might have notices. We took what we’ve learnt over the years and mixed it with our heritage to make something which is just us and just for you – no stereotype of some jerk shack in the Islands which never existed, but a representation of our shared culture and cuisine. We’re proud to be independent, proud to be who we are and where we are and we may be likkle but wi’ tallawah!
Big love to everyone who has joined us over the last six years, it’s only going to get better!
So the summer got off to a flying start, made us all believe that this island could give us a little taste of Island life. So it’s been a bit more, well, English lately – best way to bring back the summer is with a good rum punch!
Like a lot of good things, there’s a whole lot of different opinions on where rum punch came from – like it come from the Sanskrit word pañc – but what pretty much everyone agree on is it was sailors who made the first ones which are like the ones we make now. On the old European sailing ships, the crewmen drank a load of beer because water got stale and dangerous on long voyages and the alcohol content made sure that the beer didn’t go that way. Thing was, once you got to somewhere hot the beer would go rancid, leaving the ship without a liquid they could give the crew in bulk. They had ship’s rum of course – plus there was a whole lotta fruit on the islands – so a fruit-based drink to thin out the rum made good sense…
Today like back then, everyone got their own recipe, here’s ours:
500ml Pineapple Juice
500ml Orange juice
75 ml Wray & Nephew over proof rum (add more if you want stronger)
Dash of lime
2 table spoons sugar
47 ml Syrup Strawberry or Grenadine
Because this so easy to drink, remember to do that responsibly and if you want the real thing, you know where we are…
There are some men who, though when they are born they are the same as every child who comes into the world that day, have within them the power to break the mould, transcend the mundane and let the world know their name. Close to 31 years ago in Sherwood Content Usain Bolt came into the world. That was the last time he was ordinary.
Fast forward three decades and having announced his retirement from professional competition at the end of the current season, Usain ran his last home-crowd run at the Racers Grand Prix in Kingston, Jamaica earlier this month. It was always going to be a special occasion but even the most hardened fan of the fastest man on earth could be forgiven for being surprised by the sheer scale of the emotional outpouring. Opened by prayers and a celebration of the greatest athlete in Jamaican history, from the moment it opened it was no longer the Racer’s Grand Prix but Salute to a Legend.
As a farewell tour for a jubilant home crowd, Bolt did not and could not disappoint – he may have had a terrible start as usual, he may have run the 100m in an average for him) 10.03, but he played to the stands, shadow-boxing and running through his usual pre- and -post race routines to give everyone there a sense that they had truly seen him in all his beautiful pomp and circumstance. And of course, he won.
With a tougher line-up by far than the 29 athletes in Kingston when he comes to London this August for his final World Championships, Usain will have to work as hard as he ever has to go out on a high. For an adoring crowd however, it will be enough to see him do what he does best – own an entire stadium with easy-going grace.
Less than a week after Big Mo runs his last professional race, the Olympic Stadium is lighting up again for ten days of world-class Para-Athletics from 14th-23rd July – one month ahead of the IAAF World Athletics Championships. This is the first time one city has hosted both championships side-by-side and we love that London, and Stratford, is the place to see the best in the world.
We’ll be cheering on all the competitors but have a special eye on Sophie Hahn. She took up Para Athletics after having watched the 2012 games, getting inspired like a whole load of us did that summer! She’s a sprinter and had so much natural talent and trained so well that by the time Rio came around four years later she was not just on Team GB but won a Gold and a Silver – if that’s not going some, we don’t know what is!
Jamaican Paralympic Association is gearing up for what they’re calling Operation Big Ben, fuelled by the fire and success of Alphanso Cunningham. Man has an arm like a cannon and has been winning big since the 2004 games. In 2012 he took an epic gold in discus and a bronze in javelin to make it a huge games for him and the team. So much so that, inspired by him the Para Athletic movement in Jamaica has grown in size and strength to the point that for the first time it its history, a full team is coming to town. Not bad when you think that Jamaica has about 1/20th the population of the UK! They’ll be bringing the thunder and we’ll be cheering them on all the way!
Can it really have been five whole years since Stratford first became the centre of the world and the Olympic waggon rolled into town? It was then we first opened our doors to serve up the best Jerk cooking in Stratford – that’s why we’ve kept on serving it!
Time flies but we got the best of the world here again on July 9th for the Muller Anniversary Games. It’s going to be a brilliant day of top-class sport with too many great ones to mention but it’s Mo Farrah’s last season – we don’t want to miss a last chance to see one of British sport’s all-time greats.
If you’ve got tickets and need a little something to keep you in the mood to cheer on the best in the world, we know that there are plenty of restaurants in Stratford but only one Rhythm Kitchen! We’ve been told* that Jerk cooking is the food of champions! Seeing as it’s over the weekend we’ll have a couple of specials on just for you so you can fuel up just right. See you this weekend!