Monday, 18 April 2011

Eating 'abroad'

Having just got back from a weekend in London I've learned a couple of things about their restaurants based on two things that ‘make’ London: multiculturalism and creativity.

1. Multiculturalism.

London’s cultural diversity is one of its major attractions and provides constant opportunities to shoot the shit with a plethora of earth's inhabitants. This is what makes it such a great place to escape to when the mundane becomes mundane.

That said, when eating out if you dare step away from ordering anything other than something you can point to on the menu you're screwed…

Some pals and I headed to a Chinese restaurant in Balham yesterday evening. I really fancied ‘something’ in black bean sauce so I asked the waiter for tofu, stating I was a vegetarian; he shook his head and offered me chicken or beef and this is when my heart sank. After a lot of gesturing and pigeon English I thought I'd succeeded. 20 minutes later, my food arrived: a plate of vegetables in black bean sauce with an explanation of 'we've sold out of tofu'. We were the only ones there and they had only been open for an hour. Really it was 'I'm not sure what you were on about so, here, eat something you didn't order'.

2. Creativity

Food, cooking and creativity, to my mind, must co-exist. In terms of my experience in London the three are clearly interchangeable.

The example here came from a visit to an Italian restaurant in East London. The creative side being the menu only. The menu scriber clearly had talent, the food sounded amazing. I opted for tagliatelle in a tomato pesto with chilli, almonds and pine nuts topped with smoked ricotta. 'Wow', huh?

That was where the magic ended, I got a plate of tepid pasta in an insipid sauce with a few bits of chopped almonds and chilli flakes. It could have been so good! Now I'm all for well executed food writing, obviously, but at the end of the day it is the food that matters - the writing is just there as a means of describing how great something was or is going to be. In this instance the creativity ended when the writer hit 'print' and I was forced to douse my plate in salt and pepper and nick a slice of pizza from my friends.

And to finish, some humorous menu misspells:

- Tomato and chilly sauce

- Sweat and Sour Vegetable

- Steamed white rise

…lovely stuff!

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic. Who'd of thought that a trip to the capital could make us crave the ease and erm....service of Birminghams fine establishments. At least we can run a spell-check here before sending something to the printers!