Some urban areas are vibrant and diverse, and bustling with colour and flavours, such as North London’s iconic (though often understated) Green Lanes area. Known in the recent past as ‘Little Turkey’ for the culinary delights it offers in abundance in Turkish restaurants and grocery stores, today Green Lanes boasts an array of Greek, Cypriot, Eastern European, Asian cafes and delis.
Other urban areas, not far from the bustling high street, appear dreary and rough-edged, often threatening in their secluded strangeness, marked by an unfamiliar shop front selling vegetables we do not recognize labelled in names we cannot pronounce, or by an ethnic cafe frequented by groups of people we perceive as different.
What is the role of ethnic food shops in making the difference? Why do some urban areas invite outsiders with their difference, illustrated and epitomised by the ethnic food shop, while others scare them?
These are some of the questions we explore through the prism of the ethnic food shop as an indispensible physical-spatial element of the urban landscape and as an active participant in the urban place-making dynamics.