|Near Brick Lane, London|
|That's me, February 2000, drinking on the tube in my pig tails, on the way to some club.|
We rarely ate at restaurants. About all we could afford when we did was some budget pasta, gross corn-pizza, or noodles at Wagamama. My food adventures consisted mainly of exploring Sainsbury, Tesco, Marks & Spencer or Safeway. I made sweet potatoes with nutty butter, baked chicken with marmalade and attempted to make a very dry rabbit (not something I'll ever try again). Although I was branching out a little bit, I still walked past most of the more international ethnic cuisines that I had no idea about.
Last week I got a chance to finally go back to London, all grown up. My husband and I began our Oktoberfest vacation with a 3-day layover there before heading to Munich. He had decided that we would try to find the best Indian food in London, as it is touted as the best in the world outside India. Last time I was in London, I didn't even know what curry was - I just thought it was some sort of spicy gruel of which existed only one variety.
|Bland Chicken Tikka and giant cans of beer. Better than standing outside in the rain!|
|Shri Swaminarayan Mandir (Neasden Temple)|
|Zaika in Kensington - impressive dining room|
‘Yukon Gold’ & globe artichoke ‘tikki’, black eye beans laced with tamarind chutney, sweetened
yoghurt & ‘garam’ flour vermicelli, topped with artichoke fritter
|Lebanese food at Randa, part of the famous Maroush chain|
Then I noticed the sticker on the door: "I <3 Maroush". How many times had I passed by that sticker on Edgeware Road, walking home? So this was part of the chain of Lebanese restaurants called "Maroush", and I had walked by the original one so many times, unaware of the cheap and delicious foods inside. I guess that's what happens when you go back and look at something with a new perspective.
I'm not sure whose taste matured more in the past 10 years, mine or London's. Maybe the great food was always there and I never noticed, but I feel like it's mostly a recent development. I can't say great things about what I ate in the 5 months I lived there in 2000, but in 2010 I can say I had many great meals around London. I think it has grown up too, and I can't wait to go back again.
|Now there's even Whole Foods in London! We were standing at the massive chocolatier's counter chatting with him about NYC life, when he pointed out Lisa Marie Presley doing some shopping.|
|In 2000, Spitalfields Market was known for a gathering of international food mobiles and indie designers. Now, it's more sophisticated (read: sell-out) - there's even an Oyster Bar among the clothes and crafts. And it was super busy!|