Part 2: Food and Frozen Beer
Walking through central London, you’d have to be blind not to notice how embedded multiculturalism is in this city. I once read somewhere that London is the only city where you can find at least one person born in every other country.
And what do we get when we’re surrounded by all this culture? FOOD!!
4pm – As I mentioned in Part One, wandering through the gilded halls of one of London’s palaces after a Prosecco-fueled train journey is hungry work. After exhausting ourselves perusing Princess Diana’s wardrobe, what was on the menu was the only thing on our minds.
Ask pretty much anyone what they like the most about a place they’ve been and the food normally tops the list. (Don’t ask my grandfather. He considers Pizza to be “foreign muck”). Whether you’re eating Wurst in Germany or tapas in Spain, travellers and tourists always have a preconceived idea about what the local cuisine actually is is.
And while we are partial to a potato, I would think that most British people these days (except the aforementioned grandfather who also thinks curry was how Henry VIII got so fat) appreciate that what we know as British cuisine is not all homegrown.
When I was living in Paris, French Président François Hollande had a right old bitch about British food. But in your diverse capital city, Monsieur Hollande, the majority of high-standard eateries are centered on native French cooking. And while la cuisine française is not something at which to avert your face in disgust, it’s a little unfair to assume that we lowly Brits are all dressed like Sherlock Holmes smoking pipes and gnawing on roast beef and parsnips while you’re there with your slimline cigarettes, brie and brioche!
Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. I mean no disrespect to France, Paris, the French etc. (although the same can’t be said of Hollande) but in my experience Parisian restaurant culture is arguably lacking in diversity compared to that of London and in the most affluent areas of the French capital, you’ll be lucky to see anything un-French at all.
While even in small British towns, you don’t have far to look to find an Indian, Chinese or Turkish restaurant, albeit of the anglo variety, London is something else. And this trip was, as you may have guessed, decidedly a success for purveyors of fine Asian food.
6pm – Not being a Londoner and coming from a belligerent Northern family, I’ve always been a bit put off by London restaurants. Not that I didn’t want to go in every single one, rather I thought getting a table would be like trying to break into MI5. Until bookatable.co.uk was introduced to me.
Although we weren’t so extravagant this time around, we’ve used this website to dine at the Savoy for less than £100 for 2 people with wine. Although it more brings your attention to set-menus and special offers instead of giving you one-off discounts, it allows you to book tables (the clue’s in the name) at those restaurants that many people may assume you’d need to either wait weeks or increase your credit card limit to eat there.
On this occasion, Inamo was our restaurant of choice. After a drink at Rupert Street, we found ourselves at one of the 3 Asian Fusion restaurants. Somewhere in the middle of fancy and fast, there is one thing that, although somewhat gimmicky, helps this restaurant stand out from the crowd…
We all know the clichés of ultra-modern Asian cities with toilets that can talk to you and robots you can marry, but at Inamo you can play games on your table and even spy on the chefs. Your table is plain white with a projector above so aside from playing Battleships against your companion or changing the colour of the “tablecloth,” all via a built-in touch pad, you can also project your food onto your plate!!! While we’ve not quite yet entered Star Trek territory where real food actually appears on your plate, it is a good way to see what your dish might look like while you’re browsing the menu.
We drank frozen beer, which wasn’t at all like I had expected. The foamy head did somewhat resemble a slushy, but this just keeps the liquid beer underneath ice-cold, which is a nice change from the room temperature Tiger beers at my local Thai restaurant.
Despite the fact that the restaurant describes itself as Asian-fusion, the food, although good, wasn’t anything particularly new or exciting…is what I would say if I were trying to carve out a name for myself as a food critic.
That said, I like good food and I’ve no ambition to be a food blogger so suffice to say, I enjoyed myself. Crispy seafood = good. Pork = good. Creme Brulee = not Asian but good.
While we may have spent the morning gaping at the fabulous furniture and ostentatious jewelry of the well-born English, lunch was Japanese (we snacked at Wasabi), dinner was pan-Asian and even our morning beverages were Italian. The point here is that we had what can only be described as an quintessentially English day.
While to some, an interest in pomp and palaces stinks of Empire and therefore slavery, racism and relentless elitism, it only forms one part of what forms part of British culture today. Notwithstanding the fact that many of the ruling former occupants of Kensington Palace were Dutch and German, British culture stretching from it’s architecture, history and, as we experienced here, is wholly multicultural.
And anyone that believes Britain cannot possibly be a place for a melting-pot of culture to thrive simply because its head of state is the matriarch of a white family with lots of diamonds and land needs to open their eyes in London to see how the two things, in our modern world at least, can get along famously.
But more on that another time…