Friday, December 29, 2006

London Post 1: Postcard from London / Marlborough Head Pub

Haven't posted in a while. I have been so damn busy! It is now Friday, the day after my plane landed. And oh my, British Airways is amazing, simply for the stuff they provide on the flight that American airplanes used to provide. For example, a meal. I had a braised beef which, considering it was airplane food, pretty decent. Also had a salad, a Cadbury crunchie candy (kind of like a butterfinger, only it didn't fall apart as soon as I bit into it), and I think a mini mince pie - those are popular for Christmas over here, as they bring good luck if you eat one. By the way, it is the fifth day of Christmas over here. On the contrary, back home in Bawlmer it is, simply, Friday.

In the airport I ran into this gay couple from San Francisco. It was such a coincidence because one of them was originally from Cockeysville! Both had been to London before, and let me in on a few sights to see and things to do. Small world after all, I guess.

After my small encounter with the London tube (subway)* yesterday, which puts Baltimore's to shame (but any subway system puts Baltimore's to shame, so what am I talking about), I walked to my friend's flat (apartment). He lives very close to London's central mosque and we are very close to a big and bustling Muslim section of town. My first thought: mmm, Middle Eastern food. But there is also Turkish, Pakistani, and I've hardly scratched the surface. A lot of cheap takeaway (take-out) places selling shawerma and kebabs, lots of halal (and one kosher) store. And we are near the popular Tesco food market.

Because I prefer to get a look at what the locals do, I avoided the touristy things on Thursday and walked around with my friend to see the local things. We went into two popular department stores that both sell food (and may be the basis of lunch soon), Selfridge's (like a more expensive Nieman Marcus), where I bought one small container of Turkish delight (I wouldn've bought a shirt for only £20 - but it shouwed everything underneath, so, uh, no) and the much more reasonable Marks & Spencer (like Macy's), where I bought a damn fine looking shirt for £15 (most shirts were at least £25, but they had jeans on sale for £9.50 (that's 9 pounds, 50 p - said like "50 pee," for pence)

For lunch we ate at the Marlborough Head Pub. My friend and his partner call it the "Scary Pub" because it has all this morbid stuff around it - coffin-shaped boards on the outside advertizing nightly specials and whatnot. He opted for the chicken Caesar salad. I went more local and got fish (haddock, in this case) and chips. It came with peas (different from the mushy peas of Café Anglais in Frederick), which I hardly ate, and vinegar and tartare (tartar) sauce. All in all, very tasty. Though I have been warned: that's as good as indigenous English food gets.

Today, I hope to try some Chinese, or maybe M&S. or perhaps even the UK's national cuisine: Indian food!

* Whenever there is a word that is popularly used in the UK but not in the US, I'll give the US version of that word in parentheses - for example, flat (apartment).