It was an expectedly cool spring day in London. Atiya and I waited at a nearby Starbucks for our much-anticipated food tour near London Bridge. I was worried that our next hours would be so focused on keeping warm that we might miss the food fun. Atiya will happily attest to my pre-tour cranky mood. Thankfully, all my worries dissolved away at our first stop at Scotchtails for Scotched Eggs (for vegetarians: Goats Cheese, sweet potato pie from Pieminister).
The day only got brighter like the sunny, runny, bright orange fresh yoke of the Scotched Egg.
Here are some of the highlights from the tour:
The best Fish and Chips I ever had at Fish Kitchen.
The best vanilla custard doughnuts from Breadahead. Look at Atiya’s happiness.
After a few more stops, our tour ended with English Breakfast Tea and Sticky Toffee Pudding at Chop House. It turned out to be a sweet, fried and salty day with my baby, best because it was a cold day. Everything we ate represented comfort food.
Here is what I learned about London eaters based on the gastronomic narrative of the Borough Market and London Bridge Walking Tour.
- Simple foods can be surprisingly complex and crafted. For example, the chips are cooked THREE times! Boiled, fried and fried again with appropriate time intervals between.
- British food swings between casual, portable street foods like fish and chips or scotched eggs, and formal, elegant cream tea and accompaniments. A family in-between meal would be Sunday roast (we didn’t get to try this delicious combination of roast and yorkshire pudding).
- While our tour was focused on traditional English eats, the market represented a diversity of ethnic tastes: Turkish delights, Thai curries, Indian Samosas, Ethiopian Injeera, Balkan breads and more. The Borough market food story also has hidden tartness and spice.
A post-colonial critique of British food would miss the inherent inner-struggle between Anglo-Saxon, French, German, Roman and Viking past. English history has no “pure” native lineage. The “Other” is already inscribed. Food is a visceral way to respond to the climate and confronting cultures. The Borough market English food tour was an exercise of simple and few ingredients, treated with care.
In the end, regardless of cuisine culture, we can taste – care. No cultural critique needed.
Wishing you happy and “care-ful” eating,