Anywhere you go in the UK (and Ireland, for that matter, too), you’ll notice the overwhelming abundance of Chip Shops. There’s one on virtually every corner offering cheap, filling, and quick fare, although not the best for the waistline. I’ve held off on indulging my hankering for Fish and Chips long enough, but now that I’m in London, the time has finally come:
Besides the classic English dish above, one great aspect to London’s food culture is the presence of several various excellent markets spread throughout the city. These usually give you the best insight into that culture’s tastes and preferences, in addition to bringing in some of the best meat, seafood, and produce that can be had in the city.
One of the more well-known markets is the Borrough Market, located across the River Thames, just South of the Tower of London:
Though Borrough Market was the most popular and most well-organized of the various places I visited and Old Spitalfields the most stylish and trendy (offering vintage clothes and artistic knick-knacks), my personal favorite happened to be the Broadway Market, a bit outside of the city center. It was essentially just stalls thrown up along a street, but the food here couldn’t be beat as it took on an edgier, more international flavor.
Another interesting aspect of London’s cuisine is the significant presence of Indian Restaurants. From a historical perspective, I’m sure this is as a result of the fact that India was once under the control of Great Britain, and many of the English picked up a taste for curries at that time and have held on to it ever since. Regardless, the culmination of the Indian cuisine in London lies along the Brick Lane neighborhood, otherwise known as ”The Curry Mile.” For several neon-lit city blocks, each storefront is another Indian restaurant serving various curries, vindaloos, tikki masalas, and copious amounts of naan bread. And because there are so many so close, each has its own tout outside, offering deals to entice passerbys to enter their establishment and away from others. It is a bit surreal to have this experience in downtown London, but it turned out to be a lot of fun seeing who could offer the best deal. I’m not sure what the going rate was, but we finally settled on 30% off the total bill and 2 free drinks for each person (pretty good in my opinion).
London also has quite a bit to offer for those looking to imbibe a few adult beverages. And for the second straight country (if you consider Scotland a separate entity), I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the fantastic beer selection. And for the first time, I’ve run across multiple pubs that stock full menus of Belgian Ales (some of my favorites), so I’ve been a happy camper.
After our day out at Carnival, we decided to see what all the buzz what about and checked out a Cider Fest at a pub just down the street from where we were staying. Although I didn’t snag any pictures, it was an eye-opener to try a large variety of craft ciders (though I’m probably still going to stick with ales, when given the chance).