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Onions from Leila’s Shop

September 24, 2009
by the gentle author


These are the most beautiful onions in the world. I bought them for £1.10 in Leila’s Shop at 17 Calvert Avenue next to Arnold Circus. Not that the quality of Spring Onions was something that has ever come to my attention before, but I think this is maybe the point – Leila caused me to think differently and pay attention to quality of something as familiar as onions.

It is almost impossible for me to walk past Leila’s shop without succumbing to curiosity and stepping inside to see what is new. Regularly, I leave clutching a small brown paper bag with a dark moist slice of gingerbread inside to lift my spirits. This is something that can make my day. When they are in season, I have bought highly scented Narcissi from the Scilly Isles here and Bluebells from Cornwall too. Leila always tries to keep English flowers in stock, in fact whenever I ask where any of her stock comes from, whether a little bag of Lapsang Souchong or a large jar of Honey, there is always a story attached.

It is not fancy or posh, but everything about Leila’s shop is unique with a lyrical sense of poetry. Leila understands that eating should be never be just another bodily function, she knows that food can be an inspiration.  There will not be a chain of Leila’s Shops and that makes this tiny place – the expression of one woman’s passion – very special indeed.

It touches me because I identify with her love of detail in simple things, and the aspiration that even a bunch of Spring Onions can bring joy.


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