Shop Days #6: The Fishmonger

One of an occasional series where we get to see what it’s like being behind the counter for a day…
A lot of people ask Mr. & Mrs. Shopkeeper where they buy their fish. And the answer is here, at K & A (although we can never remember if it is K & A or A & K). They are just beyond the railway bridge in Rye Lane.
Now there are lots of similar shops selling fish in Peckham. But we haven’t yet found one that knows their stuff like these chaps. They go to market themselves every morning, only sell stuff that is fresh and seasonal, and are not afraid to tell you what’s what in the fish world. They offer great advice, fillet stuff beautifully, and are unusually cheerful for men who spend their lives rummaging through ice and fish guts…
Anyway, we reckoned their work looks pretty hard, so we went along to ask Khayam, the governor, about his day…
Your day starts… at 5am on the days we go to Billingsgate. Otherwise, at 8am.
What do you eat? Quite often we make rice and qorma. Otherwise it’s one of the numerous takeaways on this stretch. There’s a great new Pakistani kebab place near the station.
Best bits of the job? Providing really good service and top quality fish for my customers. We’ve been operating for over 15 years now and we have a lovely, regular clientele.
Worst bits of the job? Some people think it’s the smell, but you get used to that. I’d have to say it’s the cold and the wet. The pain of a sharp wind as you shovel ice on a Winter morning is hard to describe. Ungrateful and rude customers are a source of distress too.
Would you want your children to follow you into the trade? My kids will do what they want to do, regardless of what I think. I doubt if it includes fish.
Your day ends? We shut at 7pm.
Back room secret? Our back room is mostly fridge I’m afraid. But we do have a robust heater and a kettle to help us get warm.
Tell us a trick of the trade… If you want good fish, always talk to your fishmonger. Ask his advice on what’s best that day, and on cooking it too.

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