Around 10,000 jerk lovers converged on Horniman Museum's beautiful gardens yesterday afternoon for the annual Jerk Cookout, on a mission to find the best jerk in South London.
Only the judges - starring Floella Benjamin of bygone Playschool fame - would have got round all recipes in the competition. For the less demanding palate, there were plenty of stalls to choose from, the decision on which to go for determined by a toss-up between the size of the lip-licking queue (a guarantee of quality) and how long one could wait before the intoxicating smell became overpowering.
After sampling a chili sauce with such bite it made the eyes water, the presence of machete-wielding coconut vendors was most welcome, while the difficulty in attacking fried fish with a plastic fork was abandoned in favour of dismemberment by finger, a less elegant but more satisfying way of eating. As the smoke of countless steam cookers drifted lazily into the summer breeze, the stalls selling Jamaican flags and parasols looked to be doing a brisk trade, and for an all too rare occasion this year, people were convinced, if only for a moment, that summertime had arrived in London.