Jake Tilson – Fish, Food and Fonts

5am yesterday morning my alarm screamed for me to get up. I screamed back. Once I got over the shock and slithered out of bed, I became excited again about the prospect of heading to Billingsgate Fish Market. I can’t believe I’ve never been there before. But off I went, scooping up Petra in my car on my way.

I was actually off to the market to meet the artist, designer and cook Jake Tilson for the start of a long promotional day for the publication of his new cook book ‘In at The Deep End’  – Cooking Fish From Venice to Tokyo.

By his own admission for years he had, had an unwillingness to cook fish. But then he felt a need to challenge himself. “When I discover why I’m scared of fish I decide to put things right.” For Jake this became a seven year culinary and artistic journey across the globe, to teach himself a lesson or two, culminating in this book.

It’s a personal and fascinating collage of memories, recipes, pictures and fish memorabilia collected over this trip. He’s an artist and designer first and foremost, and the book sings of signs and fonts, but he’s a serious cook too, and there are plenty of recipes I really, really want to cook from this book…..first one Seaweed Rockcakes and Vine Wrapped Mackerel and Sprat Stack…..I love this book. (A book I enviously wish I had produced myself!)

Jake handed me a copy, but not to keep mind. It has been registered as part of the international book sharing scheme Book Crossing. So I will have the book briefly on loan to read, then I must send or give it to someone else. They will register it and do the same and I will be able to track it’s journey. Nice.

Oh yes, and Billingsgate Market was brilliant. It’s an exciting, bustling and noisy place where an amazing variety of fish is sold and shifted around and off the market floor into London and beyond. We were privileged to have Jake guiding us, as he took us to peer into drawers of live eels, piles of winkles and whelks, leopard skinned skate, turbot the size of small children and these fish bizarrely used daily as labels….Get up and go see!

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