Vorld of food / How London killed my prejudice of English food
Even though I love the English and especially their capital, London, there has always exsisted this prejudice in my mind of English food tasting blant and boring. When it comes to stereotypes I think that even the most open minded person is influenced by them in some way. Being German, I have often experienced people I met suprised, when I told them that not everyone in Germany dresses in Dirndl and Lederhosen and that our diet does not merely consist of Sauerkraut and Bratwurst. I am however also willing to question my conceptions of foreign cultures. What better way do so, than to travel to the respective country and face my prejudice firsthand.
Arriving in London very early in the morning I decided to start my four day stay with a classical english breakfast, something I had had many times before as a typical hotel breakfast offered worldwide. This particular english breakfast however, exceeded all of my expectations. Instead of blant and boring I found myself looking down on a plate of perfectly combined fresh flavors including portobello mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, baked beans, eggs, bacon, english sausages and toast. The breakfast was not only incredibly delicious, but also relatively healthy considering the amount of fresh vegetables and proteins, not to forget the big pot of english breakfast tea that could have served two people.
One of my new favorite spots for having breakfast in London is "The Table" in Southwark, where you can get anything from said traditional English breakfast to freshly made waffles or eggs benedict.
Another thing I realized while I was exploring London is its great diversity of different cultures and trends being reflected by the variety of restaurants and bars. This way I found it hard to really define the term "English food". The same way I can't say New Yorker food is American food, I think it is necessary to distinguish between "Contemporary English food" and "Traditional English food". What I love about both of these cities is that their identity and atmosphere is profoundly shaped by their inhabitants, which results in them being constantly transformed and reinvented. The different backgrounds and the traditions of the people living in London is what in my opinion defines the term of "Contemporary English food" an what has upgraded it to a whole different level.
A perfect example of a restaurant that forms part of this development is the Korean restaurant "Kimchee", located in High Holborn. The owner of Kimchee, Mr Kim, created it because he felt the city still missed a restaurant that offered authentic Korean cuisine. He hence did not only found it for econonmical reasons, but also because he wanted to enable people to feel and taste a part of his native culture, whilst geografically sitting in the center of London. If you ask me his concept was a clear success. Firstly, because I had to wait almost fourty minutes in a seperate bar area until a table was available and secondly because not only did Europeans come to taste the food, but also many Koreans, who clearly seemed to enjoy what they had ordered. Although I was surprised about how spicy the food was, it was a great experience to try new and exciting flavour combinations.
Another discovery I made on a walk through Soho was the restaurant "NOPI", a "brasserie with a twist: serving dishes to share with robust, sunny flavours, typically from the Middle-east and Asia" (from www.nopi-restaurant.com). The very stylish and minimalistic décor aside, the food was what really amazed me. Being there during lunchtime I got recommended to pick either a variety of starters to share or to combine a main course with one of the side dishes on the menu. I finally decided to order a whole young chicken with chili sauce and lemon salt, as well as some fresh broccoli as a side dish. Who would have ever expected such a simple dish to taste as heavenly? It didn't suprise me when I later found the restaurant being mentioned in the newest issue of "Porter magazine".
The last restaurant I want to include belongs to the London restaurant group "Fish works" and proved exactly what its name promises. Working together closely with sustainable suppliers on the South Coast their fish and seafood was as fresh as it gets, not seasoned too heavy, which let the taste of the fish truely "shine".
In the end I have to admit that I still have left to try what you would call "Traditional English food". The "Contemporary English food" however, is a discovery that I have become a big fan of and that I am very excited to try more of in the future.
For more information about the restaurants I mentioned...
The table: www.thetablecafe.com
Fish works: www.fishworks.co.uk
Here are a few pictures that I took during my stay, just because I think London is the most beautiful during springtime...
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org