Saturday, 18 April 2009

Anything but Italian

As I decided not to go home for Easter it was going to be the next best thing and the closet place to home: London. Familiar, nostalgic and what used to be a place of residence for 7 years of my life, there are shops I like, restaurants I return to, dishes I re-order, food I buy, friends I meet and galleries I visit.

This was the perfect opportunity for my annual visit and three full days were ideal. Any less and I would stress, anymore and I’d be broke. The weight limit restriction of the cheap airline flight I bought also meant I had to restrain myself. I decided to take this opportunity to top up my intake of ‘other’ food; food that would be as far as possible from Italian food and vary my diet to something other then pasta and Lambrusco. It was not a matter to be left in the hands of fate and before leaving Italy all of my meals were scheduled and prebooked including the company they were to be enjoyed with.As with all best laid plans this too had not followed through (I can report back a success ratio of 75%).

There were several highlights such as the banana jam on a croissant for breakfast at Ottolenghi and the salt beef on rye bread sandwich at Selfridge’s food hall. I had more dim sum in three days that is probably good for me, though its probably good for me to be happy, so that’s my rational for doing so.

The tasting samples at the stalls of borough market were a meal in itself, covering cheeses, chutneys, tofus, olive oil, linseeds, cakes and cured meat. I nearly lost my balance after viewing a raclette being made. Half a wheel of cheese is heated up (a device has been specifically designed to hold both halves while a heater alternates between them, bringing the cheese surface to melting temperature.) and then scraped, or poured, as was the case, onto a plate of boiled potatoes and small gherkins and pickled onions.I know, I know, my mouth was drooling too, and my eyes popped out at that very moment.

I had also craved Indian food. Nothing fancy, but old familiar favorites available from every curry restaurant; some poppadoms, a lot of coriander, chutney, vegetable dishes, rice and yogurt. A reservation to the best Indian restaurant as voted by Londoners proved I may have asked to much. The pepper vapors inhibiting my breathing upon entering should have triggered an inner alarm. But they didn’t. All the dishes ordered, including the usually cooling and soothing raita were filled with peppers including the fried okra which had peppers stuffed where once were seeds. My stomach was on fire and nothing could put it out. This was the hottest meal I had ever had, which made tasting the food impossible, as well as missing the target point of my craving.

I am recharged and ready for more variations on a theme; pasta, risotto, and pork.

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