British Food Porn

Besides trying to look at as much art as possible, I went to Harrods every, every day. Quite simply, their food court is a thing of beauty. A jaunt to Harrods started my days, partly because they are less crowded right when they open at 10:00 a.m., but also because the food court is so diverse in its offerings. I had oysters on the half-shell with Muscadet for breakfast. One morning it was the cylindrical meat pies (venison with Stilton and orange, thank you!). How can you not love a place that has FOUR different providers of Goose Fat? Or a fish market that offers varieties which can be brought home — or they will cook it for you there (fry, broil, etc.?) The butcher has Scottish-raised beef and Danish-raised lamb. And it isn’t just the First Floor food court that makes Harrods special; they have restaurants and bistros on every floor, including a specialized chocolate bar (I know, I should have at least tried a hot chocolate from there and I didn’t!)

I also wandered into a local corner market and beheld a bounty of foreign treats for sale. It was delightful that it was not a specialty market; not an Indian market per se, or a Middle Eastern market. It was just a corner market with insta-curries and canned Moroccan lamb soup. I chuckled at the “Pot Noodle” offerings of Bombay Bad Boy, Lamb Hotpot, and more. I loved that an Apple and Elderflower drink is available. And that shelves which hold the instant custards and pre-made plum puddings lie above the shelf of bags of lentils, peas, and beans and below the shelf of instant Sindhi Biryani and Chatt Pakora mixes.

Another revelation occurred at the Borough Market. I….. Had….. No….. Idea….. This is where the Cheese Gods live. The heavenly angelic choir sings forth giant wads of coagulated milk and I exalt in the joy that is cheese. I hearken back to Clotaire Rapaille’s analysis of the American cheese market and how one such as I have been brought up with a knowledge of cheese:

I know that in America the cheese is dead, which means is pasteurized, which means legally dead and scientifically dead, and we don’t want any cheese that is alive, then I have to put that up front. I have to say this cheese is safe, is pasteurized, is wrapped up in plastic. I know that plastic is a body bag. You can put it in the fridge. I know the fridge is a morgue; that’s where you put dead bodies. And so once you know that, this is the way you market cheese in America.

At the Borough Market, for the first time in my life, I saw cheese specimens sitting out in the open; no plastic wrap, no refrigerator, and no one wearing surgical gloves when handling the cheese. The smell was pungent in the air and it was glorious. The green vegetables seemed greener. Mushrooms where strewn in a giant platter for the customer to pick at will. I also had a bit of a Dickensian/Pepysian moment in buying a cup of mulled wine from a vendor; warm and spicy and oh, so satisfying.

God, Britain, I love you so…

Harrods:

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