Some years ago Britain had a reputation for lousy food. Today, it may be the food capital of the world, with restaurants of every type as well as fresh seafood and other locally grown ingredients. I also think London has popularized the idea of “healthy” fast food with outlets like Pret a Manger which was the first franchise that I saw that prominently displayed calories and had excellent choices in ingredients and reasonable portions.
This photo of mushrooms was taken at a market on the South Bank where they had every kind of food imaginable. There were butchers, cheesemongers, beer and wine, and everything else. I was able to get a great pulled pork sandwich for 4 pounds there, so it seems that they are even borrowing good culinary ideas from the US south.
This photo makes me a bit sad. At Selfridges they have the “Foods of America” section with our insanely colored and artificial breakfast foods as well as pop tarts. I wanted to put a piece of tape over that title but it was certainly sad and true that we invented this dreck.
In London you need to drink faster because beer comes in a pint glass – which according to wikipedia is 20 ounces for the British unlike our 16 ounce pint in the US. Most US drinks come in 12 ounce sizes. Dan and I often trade photos of “beer synchronicity” where the glass and beer are in synch and here is a Kronenbourg 1664 (a French beer) in English pint size on a sunny afternoon on a picnic bench outside a pub. That’s the way to do it.
Cross posted at LITGM
7 thoughts on “London Dining and Drinking”
When I first visited London in 1977, we could not find a good restaurant. Since then, I have gotten better at it or we have gone to different areas and found much better food. Some may be the increasing European diaspora of knowledge workers fleeing the tax hells across the Channel. They may have brought their food with them.
Kronenbourg’s British ads used to call it Seize Cent Soixante Quatre, which I rather enjoyed.
This photo makes me a bit sad. At Selfridges they have the “Foods of America” section with our insanely colored and artificial breakfast foods as well as pop tarts. I wanted to put a piece of tape over that title but it was certainly sad and true that we invented this drec.
When I was working in Latin America, locals often assumed that the basic foods in the US were hot dogs and hamburgers. I didn’t see the point in informing them about the likes of fried okra or Boston baked beans or cornbread, so I just replied, yeah hamburgers and hot dogs is what we eat.
The “foods of America” seem to be limited to breakfast products from two manufacturers. Perhaps this is a case of limited shelf space and someone’s decision to ask a wholesaler to provide some American children’s foods.
1) Failing to find good tucker in London as late as ’77 means that you needed better device. I lived in Edinburgh in ’77 and there was excellent food to be had, so I can’t believe London was without.
2) On my first visit to the US (three months in ’66) I thought the burgers and hotdogs were excellent. So was the feeling of plentiful cheap food. The calibre of some of the fruit and veg was pretty poor though – tasteless tomatoes, potatoes, strawberries, apples, …. Presumably things have changed?
oops. “device” -> advice
I used the travel pages of Gourmet Magazine for years, clipping out the sections for countries I planned to visit. Unfortunately, that is no long an option. The next time I went was about four years later with another wife. I’m not sure which made the difference but the food was much better.
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