The first day of the Jus’Caribbean expo ended in the golden light of a summer evening. That seemed appropriate for a day of good food, enjoyable music and a laid-back atmosphere. If you wanted to sample something like Notting Hill’s food and drink stalls without the noise, jostling and eye-watering prices, this was a very good way to start. A linked full-day food and health conference took place on Friday.
The festival site was hidden away behind the anonymous façade of Lambeth College opposite Clapham Common. Rather than one big open space, it was a higgledy-piggeldy network of paths and green spaces, dotted with a variety of stalls promoting everything from Grenadian rums, homemade cake (more rum!), charities and African-heritage children’s books to Dalgety herbal teas, sauces from Grace Foods, barbecue chicken and cosmetics.
Soca News enjoyed sampling the flavoured rums on a stall run by Kevin Greer, the enthusiastic and knowledgeable Rum Doctor (for a prescription, email firstname.lastname@example.org). The steeping of fruit and flavourings such as pineapple, tamarind and vanilla creates a whole new complexity of flavour. The style originated in the Indian Ocean, where it is known as rhum arrangé, and it has since spread to the Caribbean.
Music played at both ends of the site – on a small stage near the entrance and provided by a Réunionnais DJ farther along. The day ended with a typically energetic performance by Triniboi Joocie. T&T was also represented by glamorous and charming Miss Trinidad UK, but while Grenada and Barbados were present, there were no stalls sporting the red, black and white; as ever, it was the black, green of gold of Jamaica that dominated the stalls.
Jus’Caribbean continues from 11am to 7pm on Sunday 20 August. Entry costs £5 (children £3). Lambeth College, SW4 9BL, is a short walk from Clapham Common tube station.