London, Home Of Barbecue?

When I first moved to London--over 10 years ago--food and eating out was a completely different ball game. At the time, most reality T.V. shows were more focused on home and gardening. There were no Masterchefs or Kitchen Nightmares. I remember my parents' first visit to London when I took them to a Bella Italia in Leicester Square for dinner one night. What a shocker! Granted, part of the problem was that I didn't really know where to get good food, but at the same time, the restaurant culture was not the same.

These days it's a totally different story. London has become a gastronomic city, filled not only with Michelin-starred establishments but also trendy eateries with names like Duck & Waffle, Burger & Lobster and the intriguing Dishoom, a Bombay-inspired Irani cafe with queues of over an hour wait even on a Tuesday night (because of course they don't take reservations). 

We've been through lots of trends, but I find the recent one most fascinating: London has embraced Southern American Barbecue eating. You cannot go to an establishment these days that does not serve a pulled pork sandwich. One recent Friday I was out for dinner at a restaurant in Canary Wharf that describes itself on its website as "a restaurant offering traditional Scottish cuisine", where the women waiters wear kilts. And I ordered a 'Midnight' Cuban street bun, a sandwich comprised of pulled pork, cured ham & melted Swiss cheese. Seriously people, this is just getting weird.

Macaroni & cheese, or macaroni cheese as it is called here, has been a long-term favorite of Brits. But now it is everywhere, offered as a side dish at many restaurants. The pub that my book club frequents even offers fried macaroni cheese appetizers, which definitely seem American influenced. (They are, may I say it, delicious.) 

This means that when we have people over for dinner and I decide to serve macaroni & cheese as a side, does that make me achingly trendy? I don't fry my mac 'n cheese, and I always use my Grandma's recipe because it's still the best I've ever had. 

Touched this week by a very bad cold virus, I have an idea for the next American-inspired trend I'd like to see in London: A New York deli. Because where else can you find a good clear chicken broth-based soup? Chicken noodle or matzoh ball -- both soups which I miss terribly. Most chicken soups here have a cream base, which can be nice, but it's really not the same. And I can't even find a can of Campbell's chicken noodle to act as a substitute anywhere. It makes feeling ill even more miserable.  

Until then, I guess I'll have to settle for barbecue.

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Photo credit: Macaroni and Cheese via photopin (license)


  1. I too crave American chicken noodle soup. The last time I deplaned to the U.S., my 13-year-old nephew "made" me a big bowl of it. He open a can of Campbell's and microwaved it. Nothing could have been better. Here in France when I crave this stuff, I make do by adding some noodles to a chicken broth, made with bouillon cubes.

    1. That is very smart. I have this fantasy of making my own chicken broth by boiling up a chicken carcass. Alas, I've never ever done it and who knows if I ever will?


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