In town today I picked up my copy of a new magazine I’d been looking forward to seeing and decided to find somewhere quiet to go and look through it. Thinking of ‘quiet’ reminded me that the Liverpool Quakers have just opened a café in Liverpool One, near to The Bluecoat. So that’s where I went.
“One of our fundamental beliefs is that ‘there is that of God in everyone’ which implies no discrimination on grounds of gender or sexuality, youth or age, race, ethnicity or nationality, religion, social status, intellect or fame.
Our focus is on our experience rather than written statements of belief. Our sense of community does not depend on professing identical beliefs, but from worshipping, sharing and working together.
Our religious experience leads us to place a special value on truth, equality, simplicity and peace. These testimonies, as they are known, are lived rather than written. They lead Quakers to translate their faith into action by working locally and globally for social justice, to support peacemakers and care for the environment.”
A leaflet inside the café explains:
“Our food is fresh, seasonal and locally sourced with no hidden extras or additives.
All our staff are paid the living wage, not the minimum wage.
And all our profits support our charitable aims.”
No worries there then. I was expecting the food to be good, because it is at Blackburne House. But what happened next was beyond my expectations. As I stood looking at the salads and specials I was welcomed to the café by someone who recognised me, someone who used to work at the Everyman Bistro before it closed down three years ago. And her next words were pure Liverpool Ev history:
“We’ve got cheesy leek and potato bake?”
So my decision was made. And for the next half an hour I might have been down the stairs and inside that beloved basement in Hope Street of years gone by, so beautiful was the food.
I wasn’t of course, I was in a bright light friendly café just off School Lane. And I’ll definitely be going there again.
Food eaten I sat back for a look through my magazine.
This is the new offering from a team led by David Lloyd of SevenStreets. Food, drink, travel, life and, as he cheerfully says ‘anything that takes our fancy really.’
He explains that the inspiration for writing about food came from love and his personal experience of illness and loss:
“When the person you’re closest to in the whole world is dying, all of food’s mysteries melt away. You get that it’s a proxy for the things there are no words for. That it’s all that’s left when your world shrinks to the size of an overbed tray table.
When medicines faltered and failed, food fired up long-dead neurons – reached parts, reignited memories that no other drug could ever reach. I saw it happen. Saw how it brought light back to fading eyes. For six weeks I witnessed the amazing alchemy that happens when food hits love. And there wasn’t even a whiff of an artisan, dry-aged burger anywhere.”
So it’s about food, but it isn’t foodie.
“Some say food and drink is having a moment. We disagree. Bitten isn’t about food as fad, drink as fashion. It’s about the constants: real people driven by passion to bring something amazing to the world.”
Our own favourite bakers at Baltic Bakehouse there at the top.
But this isn’t a Liverpool magazine, it’s Northern.
To talk to the farming family who reinvented the motorway service station and, in doing so, revived their struggling community. Next, via Manchester we’re back in Liverpool where street photographer Jane MacNeil spends a night in a chippy – with her camera.
And there is meat.
I’m reading all this, of course, in a vegetarian café. Recognising the irony of sitting there reading an article headlined as ‘Cooking with blood’! But it’s run by quietly tolerant Quaker people, so I doubt that they’d mind.
Their place is also very quiet.
Bitten isn’t all food related though.
There’s other travel too, and music and, oh, it’s a magazine. A lovely, analogue folding thing you can flick through and go back to and find surprises in.
She’s my favourite broadcaster on the planet just at the moment. Her BBC 6 Music Sunday lunch time show a hymn to the beauty of more or less every kind of music. She’s running her own Good Life Festival too this weekend, over at Hawarden in North Wales. Sounds great and a deal more grounded than the nonsense that’ll be going on in locked off Sefton Park here. Oh sorry, I’ve ranted about that before.
Anyway a great and beautifully produced thing that will brighten and inform your life. And it’s free. Long may it pass us the biscuits and hand us the beer.
In fact, may ‘Bitten’ last as long and as graciously as the Liverpool Quakers have.
‘Bitten’ is free and available all over the north. I picked up mine in FACT in Liverpool. Sarah saw it at Claremont Farm on the Wirral. So look out for it. It comes in two covers. The one shown and another with a photo of a cage fighter. Yes, it’s not going for the Good Housekeeping market.
Any trouble finding your copy message me on Twitter @asenseofplace1 and I’ll let you know where your local suppliers are.