Sunday, September 07, 2008

It’s all the same, just a little... not

Laptop is alive, almost back to normal! Thank you for all the lovely thoughts and good luck wishes. I hope to recover from the shock of it all shortly. Should only take another couple of six-packs. Whew. Now let’s get back to business, people.

I just came back from a nine day stay in London. Unlike most of the trips I go on, I wasn’t ready to go home at the end. Not nearly. I really could have used another couple of days walking around the city, sitting in ancient pubs drinking excellent beer, and eating all manner of fried and sausage-related foods. I fell in love (again) with the enormous preponderance of fresh sandwiches, pre-packaged in neat, triangular boxes, ranging in filling from egg salad and cheese to prawn salad (eeek. Kinda sketchy), sold in every coffee shop and market in the city. It has to be the box. I love that triangular box.

Everything in London is familiar, but not quite the same as what I am most used to. It's off by just a couple of degrees. Men’s suits fit better, beer is less carbonated and tastier, the cars drive in unpredictable patterns at predictably high speeds – toward the end of the trip I took to checking right, left, up and down for cars, just to make sure I would not get flattened by a giant red bus of doom speeding from out of nowhere. It worked.

As I mentioned, I was in London for work… and work I did. While the man friend explored London and went to see the galleries I am pissed about missing, I worked. Beh. I did have the evenings, and made the best of them.

The evenings were made up of the obligatory pub fish and chips with mushy peas at a pub near city center (wherever that is), with a light and crisp batter. Fried overload.

Suspiciously green but wonderful – the pea-est peas I have ever had.

There was also traditional pork pie, bought in a stiflingly hot indoor market in Brick Lane, the Indian/Bengali part of town. As if I would skip the Indian/Bengali part of town.

The pork pie was intense – butter-laden handmade crust encasing a slightly gritty filling of ground up pork and spices. It was as the name suggested – pie shell and pork. Wonderful smeared all over with mustard.

Pork pie, the 'after' shot.

The hotel I stayed at served full English breakfast every morning – beans (which I am now addicted to), black pudding, bacon, every kind of egg, stewed tomatoes, mushrooms, sausage, kippers, and all sorts of yogurts, fruits, etc and oh my. The Brits know their breakfast, that is without doubt, but kippers? Really? That’s hardcore, even by my standards.

Unfortunately, I don’t have too many other pictures to share. Most meals were consumed in pubs and either the light was too low for photography, or I was one too many pints past taking pictures. Most often, it was a combination of the two.

The beer… the beer was fabulous. And the people were super nice, the tube was marvelous (yes, Londoners think it’s shite, but come to Boston for a week and then tell me your public transport blows. I think not). In my 9 days there I managed to pick up some sort of bizarre accent and now say “Cheers!” at seemingly random times, and “brilliant” at wholly inappropriate ones. I can’t wait to go back and pick up other Britishisms – preferably ones that don’t involve bad teeth and imminent alcoholism. Though I may be swayed toward the latter, with enough perseverance.


rpg said...

Agh! I am so missing London, after having been back in Australia only a couple of days.

And you're dead right about the Tube. And people actually let you get off the fornicating train before trying to get on. And English bitter, and mushy peas, and the soft drizzle, and and and.


Anna said...

Do you really not get a lot of the British stuff in Oz? I am surprised, to tell the truth! I thought Oz would be likelier than most to import the stuff. Don't know why I think this, mind you.

What's soft drizzle? Sounds a little sordid. Again, don't know why I think this.

jo said...

Husband, being a Northerner says TA instead of thanks and the meals are as follows in order of time of day:

dinner (our lunch)
tea (our dinner)
supper (late night snack)

We have a local source for the mushy peas as he would never *think* of having fish without them. He would be drooling on the screen if he saw that pork pie.
Sounds like a great trip.

aimee said...

Oh man, I bloody love kippers for breakfast! With a big crust of bread and dollop of HP sauce. Brilliant!

Soft drizzle = light rain. Though I'm not sure why on earth it would be an attractive prospect for anyone. Ugh.

Glad you managed a smattering of fun between the work :)

rpg said...

Decent cider is almost impossible to get hold of. Occasionally the large liquor stores carry bottles of British beer, and charge a small child for it. They're very keen on the pissy yellow fizz here: completely tasteless (which in some ways is a relief) and unsatisfying.

When you switch between 40C heat and monsoons in the same day you learn to appreciate soft drizzle.

HP Sauce? We can get that, but there was 2 litres of Daddies sauce in my suitcase when I came back. The good news is that the local Indian deli sells marrowfat peas, although they call them 'blue boiler' peas. Whatever, they are the raw material for mushy peas, and I always have some in the store cupboard.

Anna said...

Jo - Argh! What does TA mean? I have never figured that out. What's your local source of mushy peas? It's not a secret, I hope! I would really like to procure some, if I can.

Aimee - Kippers with HP sauce? Salt with salt and some salty salt on top? For breakfast? Hardcore. Totally. A smattering of fun was certainly had. It was nice.

Richard - So now we're getting to the point. Marrowfat peas? Sounds very primal. What makes them good for mushy peas? What's special about them? Fascinating. I can't say I have ever seen them around these parts.

Marie said...

That pork pie! What a beauty.

JC said...

I'm so glad that laptop disaster was avoided!

I'm also glad you had a good trip. I really want to go to England someday. The pubs sound amazing.

Those mushy(not mushed!) peas look surprisingly good to me. And I've never seen a pork pie before. Cheers!

lara griffiths said...

yeah bayhh-bee...
brits eat their lunch in the form of a sandwich in a triangle carton. (always loaded with butter???)
still not keen on the idea. but when in.. yah-de-da.. you know they saying.
glad you got in some nice food and beer.
peas- scary color no matter where you buy them. pea should never be that green. but anthony loves them.

btw. have had kippers for b-fast only once. never again- really not a breakfast food.