An American Foodie in London: Mushy Peas and Early Drinking

By: Dylan Rodgers

For Christmas 2011, I went British for a week. Great Britain-the birthplace super broccoli and the people who would eventually lay the foundation for our country seemed so familiar and yet so inherently different at the same time.

To start, I sat in the front passenger seat of our cab disoriented and tense with oncoming traffic passing to the car's right. Throughout my week in London, I never really grew comfortable with the backwards nature of traffic. Even while walking, the pedestrians want to pass you to your right, something that can lead to plenty of awkward dances with confused locals.

Otherwise, Englander crowds are quite fluid. I guess it's better said in an analogy: if New Yorkers are like a hive of bees-stopping, starting, changing direction at an inconsistent pace, then Englanders would be more like a school of fish where everyone's quiet and seems to move with a similar rhythm in motion.

Speaking of fish, all the seafood I had was deliciously, melt-in-your-mouth fresh. Anything from the ocean didn't have to travel more than 50 miles from water to table... other than the lobster. To my surprise, Atlantic lobsters are found only on the western side and are shipped all the way from Canada to English pots. To boot, they don't serve it with butter. "WHAT IN TARNATION ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT!" you ask. I know. I said the same thing. Plus the guacamole was awful until I realized that it was actually mashed peas and wasn't meant to be drizzled all over everything.

Traditionally people avoid England when they want a flavorful meal, but that stereotype has long been disproved. England has embraced international culture and skyrocketed to the level of a cuisine hub. Indian, Thai, US Southern, German, French, North African, Italian, Southern Mexican/Central American, and plenty of other food cultures have found a home on that tiny British isle.

Here's a quick rundown of my own English culinary experience: I had the excellent pleasure of a Venison Pie smothered in the best brown gravy ever, perfect pizza, Tom Yum Lemongrass Seafood Extravaganza, delicious pastries, whole white fish- eyes and all, great beer, tea, coffee (most often as espresso), and greasy but still pretty fantastic Chicken Mole.

The only real problem I had with the food was the complete lack of care put forth by many poorly tipped servers. Granted they do get higher hourly, but don't expect to be led through a memorable dining experience by the bored, non-attentive wait staff standing in the corner on their phones. I guess we in the States get better results by keeping our waiters and waitresses wondering whether or not they'll be able to pay rent this month, lights a fire under 'em.

All in all, I would very much enjoy going back to England... preferably in March when the sun actually peaks through the tumultuous clouds for a change. My only words of advice to anyone considering the same-do as the British do: drink early, look right first before crossing the road, and keep a stiff upper lip.


Dylan Rodgers is a writer with dreams of existential understanding and lyrical nonsense. Share with him in the well of human experience

Photo: avlxyz

For more articles from Dylan, follow me on Twitter (@MarcusCooks)