I spent six months "studying" in London back in 1998 (University of Westminster, corner of Baker Street and Marylebone Road, in case you're curious), and I learned several important food lessons there.
First of all, English people care much more about the taste of beer than the taste of food. I still remember with a fondness possible only through nostalgia the many nights at Deep Pan Pizza, where they sold all the pizza you could eat for five pounds to desperate college students like me. (Actually, they don't say "All you can eat" in England, they say "Eat as much as you like," which may explain why Americans are so much fatter.) But I remember the great tea served at the newsstand across the street. The guy who ran the stand told me that football (soccer) is a gentleman's game played by hooligans, and that rugby is a hooligan's game played by gentleman. That made a lot of sense.
Of course I remember many hours spent at pubs around London. They seem like such simple establishments, I wonder why, for all the English and Irish pubs around the U.S., none manage to have the same cozy feeling.
And for all the bad meals I consumed, I also recall The Seashell of Lisson Grove, where I ate the best fish and chips of my life, and where I learned that frying is indeed an art form.
Sporkful listener (and Londoner) @itsallaboutcake tells us, "We are a nation with very little identity when it comes to food," pointing to the fact that Indian food is king there.
Maybe so, but they make up for it elsewhere. So this weekend I'm raising my Sporkful glass of beer to London. Happy 2012 Olympics! /dan
Photo: Flickr CC / oatsy40