I think that I can fairly say that I do not usually blog (or should that be brag) about Tristram, but Feeding the 5000 is such a brilliant and uncomplicated way of demonstrating to the general public, be they Londoners, Bristolians or Parisians (and many other people besides) that throwing away good food is not only immoral, impractical and environmentally unsound but also unethical.
You no doubt remember the story in The Gospel according to Matthew: after the loaves and fishes had been distributed ALL THE FRAGMENTS were gathered up. Now Tristram, it is true, does not attempt to feed five thousand people on a few loaves and fishes, his banquet is created from tonnes of vegetables collected from the farmers’ fields, having been rejected by supermarkets for being the wrong size or cosmetically challenged; chopped by willing volunteers; cooked by Para (the wonder chef) with all the genius that comes from the Hare Krishna methodology (no onions, no garlic) providing a nourishing, delicious, and generous meal; served as a hot, FREE curry lunch.
We have not always been blessed with the weather, our first banquet was in Trafalgar Square in December, 2009 – it snowed. It did not stop the queues forming a whole hour before we were due to start serving and Tristram noted that people arrived cold and miserable and a few minutes after they had taken their first mouthfuls, were looking decidedly happy. We were luckier in 2011 – the banquet in Trafalgar Square was in November, but it was warm and people queued up happily chatting, and then sat around the fountains in the sunshine eating their free lunch. A great cheer went up as the 5000th plate was handed over. There was more to see in 2011, as well as speeches and demonstrations, there were live pigs being fed on apple pulp, the apple pressing was a great success and litres of fresh juice was served. All there to show that there are other ways of using this than dumping it in landfill sites. The ‘guests’ also lined up to pack bags of vegetables for FARESHARE, who redistribute food to people who need it; not just after F5K events but every day! The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, and the Bishop of London, The Rt. Revd. Richard Chartres, both came and served some of the curry and wandered around enjoying the party.
This year, lucky people, we were in Paris. Canal+, the independent French TV company, came over to Trafalgar Square last year and clearly were impressed with Tristram’s message, so impressed that next week on French TV there is a 90-minute documentary called Global Gâchis which is all about immoderate and unnecessary food waste. Articles about Tristram were all over Paris in the magazines Elle, Grazia and others, he will be on TV thanks to Canal+ and of course, he was there in person.
On Friday, the day before Le Banquet des 5000 on Saturday 13th (unlucky 13 it rained solidly), volunteers from Canal+ chopped vegetables in their marvellous canteen. In just over two hours carrots, potatoes, cabbage, cauliflour, tomatoes fell under the knives ready for Para’s pots the next day. Para’s pots, more readily described as vats, were set up on the square which is a first. One vat would comfortably have concealed Ali Baba and his forty thieves! Instead it was full of curry gently steaming away, ready for the banquet.
Although is rained, quite hard, people still came sheltering under their umbrellas and trying to eat curry. We fed more than 5000, there was lots to see and the mood was festive and wonderful. What can one say? Well done Tristram and thank you, thank you, thank you Canal+!! L’Hôtel-de-Ville with never seem the same again.