Flea market finds and gifted cookware find a new lease of life
I’ve lived in this warehouse in east London since 2010, the year of my first peanutbutter stew experiment, which was the beginning of Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen. It’s a great big space, set back from the road, super quiet and peaceful and flooded with sunlight. When we moved in, it was essentially an empty white box – we built the kitchen and two bedrooms ourselves. It’s cosy, but cluttered. I love living right by the canal at the end of the road, and that in this little compound, everyone knows each other – there’s a great sense of community.
The asanka pot (1) is basically a Ghanaian version of a pestle and mortar. Beautifully tactile, and very heavy, it’s a really versatile piece of kit: you cook in it, blend things in it. If I’m giving a lot of love and attention to a particular dish, I’m using the asanka pot. This house has been entirely furnished with things I’ve found or been given: I love rescuing things. At some point, a neighbour of mine, Kanchi, was moving to Berlin just as I was coming back to London, and in the crossover I inherited a lot of things from her: a pink van, this retro trolley (2) and a few other bits and bobs.
Making coffee is the first thing I do in the morning – I need as much as I can get inside me before I do anything else. I bought the pretty duck egg blue coffee pot (3) at a secondhand shop in Berlin. If I had the time, I would spend all of it in charity shops and at flea markets. There’s so much lovely old stuff out there – I just never understand why you would want to buy new things.
A friend called Sarah from Harlem introduced me to Zabars – an institution on the upper West Side. Their gourmet decaf blend (4) is the best coffee I’ve ever had in my life: this one is a single origin from Ethiopia. It doesn’t feel like a decaf; it’s really potent. It smells of chocolate. Strong and perky as hell. I’m always requesting bags of it from anyone I know who’s going to New York …
I inherited this big brown cooking pot (5) from my great aunt Maureen. She used to cook a lot, but this pot is like new inside. It’s been very well taken care of. Ugly as hell, no doubt, and so retro, but I think it’s lovely. It’s my favourite thing to cook stews in. It’s rare that I have the time in the summer to cook at home, but if I was having friends over for dinner tonight, I’d probably be cooking up a stew in that pot.
I have to hide my chef’s knives (6) from my flatmates. The weight, the length of the blade, the sharpness – it’s all very important. I like to have the right knife for the right task. I’ve had these for a long time, they were all gifts – if anyone ever wants to know what to get me for Christmas, that’s it – knives.