Nello's Longest Table
Tables and friends on the Underway
Devon June 15th, 2008 "It
was a perfect evening, like a cross between a Sicilian wedding and
summer fête gone bonkers; England flinging its knickers in
the air!" said our friend Natacha, perfectly summing up the outrageously
happy mood of Nello’s Longest Table, our community feast and street
party that took place on Sunday evening. It was the highlight of the
Topsham Food Festival and some
1500 people sat down at Topsham’s
longest table to share meals prepared with local and locally sourced
foods in memory of our great friend, Topsham restaurateur Nello
whose crazy idea this originally was.
it had been raining throughout the day, during the Slow Food Devon
Topsham Market, and as we set up more than 250 tables the length of
the town, crowds of volunteers still kept pouring out to lend a hand.
The tables, spanning the full length of Topsham’s Fore Street,
down on to Topsham Quay, and around to Ferry Road and the Underway, all
covered with paper tablecloths, and precisely numbered (what a system,
Liz!), were ready by around 4pm. By 5pm, there was an amazing energy
as people appeared to busy themselves decorating their tables, in some
cases in the most elaborate and outrageous fashion. Barbeques were set
up, outdoor cookers put in place, and immense hampers of food and wine
were carried into town along with hundreds of chairs - for everyone had
purchased a table only, and it was up to all to bring food, drink, friends,
family – and chairs.
Every time I popped home, I kept looking at the Met Office radar, and
so I had a feeling that we might be lucky. But many were not taking any
chances, and had set about erecting gazebos and putting up umbrellas
and elaborate awnings, just in case. Clearly a drop or two of rain was
not going to stop this very special party!
Longest Table was officially due to start at 6pm, but a technical glitch
with the PA system meant that there was no introductory fanfare: everyone
just got on with it! And, almost miraculously, the sun came out and
it was almost balmy in the collective warmth of both the slanting afternoon
sun, and of our community.
incredible scene it was! It was around 7pm when we finally made our
way up the stairs along the church wall, through the churchyard, down
Fore Street, and so down to The Globe where the PA was set up. I have
never experienced such a vast party atmosphere! Everyone was there
simply to have a great time! After I, Michael Caines, and Liz said
a few words, Nello’s Longest Table was officially declared open
with a “Buon Appetito” from Nello’s brother Enrico,
who had traveled over with his family from near Varese especially to
be with us for this important occasion.
and Anna Ghezzo
sent the party off in real style with a “Table Wave” that
started from Table 1 near the Fire Station, and surged all the way down
Fore Street, on to the Quay, and then down Ferry Road, as table after
table stood up and thrust their arms in the air joyously.
As we made our way back to our table on the Underway, strolling down
Fore Street, on to the Quay, then around Ferry Road, past our house and
the Pebblebed Tasting Cellar, it was just wonderful to see everyone so
enjoying themselves. We greeted people along the way; paused to have
a word, see what they were eating, share a taste or a drop of wine: a
slow and fantastic procession that I will never ever forget!
Fore Street by St Margaret's Church
Street by Drakes and the Coop
Of course for many of us the evening was an emotional and moving experience,
too, remembering a special friend, still much missed, thinking how much
he would have enjoyed the whole party.
To see so much happiness and friendship over the simple sharing of food
and wine: this truly is the legacy that Nello left to Topsham.
down on the Underway, we basked in glorious evening sunshine – yes,
after the rain, it was actually hot! – and in the warm glow of
satisfaction that comes from seeing an event long talked about finally
come to fruition. We cooked, we ate, we drank, we laughed; and we shared
the company of friends and family.
Meeting with friends, sharing a laugh and a glass of
and Bella serving out their crab risotto, ably assisted by Jane
It is amazing
how a simple, silly idea, born one very late evening in Nello’s
Ristorante over a glass or two (or three or four) of Mario's Barbera,
can some years later, with collective energy, imagination and the will
of an entire community, actually become reality: Nello’s
Longest Table, and my what a long and special table it was.
A huge huge thanks to everyone who helped us to make this unforgettable
occasion. We certainly couldn't have done it with you. Topsham rocks!
about the Topsham Food Festival
Nello's Longest Table menu. What was yours? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
has done a brilliant YouTube
with a series of pics that show the whole length of Nello's Longest
start to end with music by Spinach for Norman.
A report in the Exeter Express & Echo.
Some excellent photos of the Topsham Food Festival and Nello's Longest
Table in the Express & Echo.
report and photographs in the Exmouth Journal
For the full Topsham Food Festival program, visit www.topshamfoodfestival.org.uk
For further information contact Liz Hodges at The Globe on (01392) 873471,
Marc Millon on (01392) 873778, or email email@example.com