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Archive for the ‘Great Britain’ Category

For the last few days, I have been in my family’s home city of Glasgow, Scotland to see my oldest cousin get married in my first traditional Scottish wedding. It was fantastic and I wish them all the best, especially while they enjoy their honeymoon in Mexico.

While the focus was on my family and the wedding, it was hard to avoid talking about all that great Scottish food. My parents, flying in from the States, are much more deprived of British treats than myself since it is pretty easy to get almost everything in London that you can get in Glasgow.

But let’s take a look at the food Scotland is known for these days. First, the TAW (Travel Article of the Week) talking about a Scottish invention, the Chicken Tikka Masala. Okay, this isn’t a TRAVEL article, but Scottish food has been on my mind lately, and if you’re ever traveling to Scotland, surely you will want to know what the traditional dishes are!

I think most British people are aware these days that this ‘Indian’ dish has never set foot in India or any other Asian country for that matter and was in fact made by Asian immigrants in the UK trying to make their native dishes appealing to western palates.
But now, one MP has gone further and is trying to get Protected Designation of Origin status for the curry. It is suggested that the dish was invented in a West End Indian restaurant in Glasgow. I know that Scotland is very proud of all the things it has invented, but I’m not sure if putting a motion through the House of Commons about Chicken Tikka Masala is the best use of any MPs time.
Just a thought. Here’s the article.

Another MP, Kerry McCarthy mentions it on her blog and there are a few interesting comments, particularly pointing out the cost of things like this. I think that those commenters may feel the same way I do – makes for an interesting news article, but not a great way to spend your time when you are being paid by the public perhaps? McCarthy says, “I think it falls into the category of things that you know perfectly well you’re not going to achieve, but you’re going to have some fun in the meantime.” Read her blog here. True statement I imagine, but is having fun what MPs are supposed to do? Don’t we have other problems that should be more time consuming? Like…unemployment for instance? Okay fine, I happen to be unemployed and rather apathetic to tikka masala’s protection status so my opinion may be biased…

I personally prefer a more spicy curry instead of the mild taste of tikka masala, a preference probably solidified by spending six months eating food covered in red chilli flakes in Southeast Asia. But, I do find it interesting that an Indian inspired dish is one of the most popular meals in all of Britain. I won’t try to prove here that Britain is a place where all cultures mix harmoniously and nobody cares what colour your skin is because I’d be fooling myself and you, but the popularity of this curry must say something about how much eastern cultures have changed and influenced our own ‘western’ ways, right?

This post is supposed to be about Scottish food, so lets move on. My parents and I ate haggis, sausage rolls, Scotch pies and sticky toffee pudding, all of which I associate with Scotland although some may just be British. Sausage rolls are my personal favourite and I buy them for £1.49 for two, at Greggs just down the road from my house in London.

My American friends all think haggis, along with black pudding, is strange and rather disgusting, but I think they just haven’t given them a chance. Haggis has become a sophisticated dish these days apparently. At a lunch in Princes Square my mum and dad both had ‘Haggis Gâteaux’ and then later that night at Mitchells for dinner, my dad and I enjoyed a ‘Haggis Tower.’ My dad believes the Princes Square lunch haggis was better, I enjoyed tasting both; they were more or less the same dish. I didn’t know haggis could be included in such a fancy menu item however, and it just goes to show you how far it has come. If you’re really interested there is a whole list of Scottish food complete with descriptions here.

I think my winner for highest fat and sugar content might have to be the deep fried Mars bar. I always thought this was an urban legend, I had heard about these things, but never once in my life had I seen it appear on a menu. Until Dublin. I was under the impression that this pudding was traditionally Scottish as well, but while visiting a friend in Dublin, Ireland over a year ago, I discovered the deep fried Mars bar on a pub menu. Obviously I ordered it. Just try to imagine a warm Mars bar, soft enough to melt in your mouth, covered in hot, crunchy, sweet, fried dough, accompanied by a cold scoop of ice cream. I’m pretty sure that covered my caloric intake for the entire weekend.

This is getting rather lengthy so I’ll end it here by asking what your favourite British food is? My vote is definitely for the sausage roll, as long as it’s hot and the pastry is flaky. Although I do like a good fish and chips once in awhile. Preferably wrapped in newspaper with tartare sauce for the fish and chips drowning in vinegar. And they wonder why the Brits are getting fatter these days… Is there such a thing as a healthy British meal??

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Last night, a couple of friends and I took advantage of some serious discounts for an evening out. After seeing The Hangover (for the second time…it’s VERY funny) on ‘Orange Wednesdays’ where Orange mobile phone customers can get two-for-one cinema tickets, we went to Pizza Express where we used our cinema tickets to get two-for-one main courses for supper. It’s amazing how many money saving opportunities you can find when you are unemployed and running out of money! I even had free entertainment on the walk back to the tube station. On Fulham Road last night, about one hundred rollerblading individuals came racing down the street accompanied by a guy on a bike with a huge sound system on the back blasting techno music down the street. According to the safety vests worn by the parade marshals, they were all from Club Blue Room which, I found out today, is a retail store that sells rollerblades and skates. Quite an advertising campaign!

London can be a seriously expensive city, but there are a lot of ways to save money, like the two I have just mentioned. Especially when it comes to eating, I only find out about deals by walking past restaurants and seeing their signs in the windows advertising happy hours and specials. For instance, there’s a pizza/pasta restaurant about 15 minutes walk up the hill from me on Archway Road that I’ve never been to before, but yesterday I noticed the huge signs in the windows telling me that from 9 – 11 p.m I can get pizza or pasta for £3! I’ll let you know how it is, no doubt I’ll go there in the next few days.

I also subscribe to what is sometimes an annoying amount of mailing lists, but they do occasionally help me find things to do for little or no money. Like the Transport for London e-mail that I get weekly about what’s happening this weekend. This Sunday is Opera Holland Park Open Day apparently, which is free. The 1234 Festival in Shoreditch looks like a great deal as well, with ticket prices including access to several after parties too. I may be attending this one myself.

I just found these two websites that may help too: http://www. londonisfree.com, http://www.londonforfree.net

Anyone else know of any good deals on food or evenings out, or any cheap/free events going on in the city?

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Going Back in Time in Old England, Sip by Sip
New York Times: Henry Shukman

Since I can’t always be traveling myself and I sometimes need inspiration when trying to think of what to write about next about the place I am living in, I’ve decided to add this weekly posting to my blog.

I’ve just returned to the UK and will be finding things to write about concerning this country, and especially London, so I thought I’d start with a New York Times article on England and the English pub. The article starts by pointing out England’s difficulty in defining its culture, and what better way to define English culture than by its pubs. Old English pubs are a dying breed, but check out this article for some recommendations and a story of one man’s tour through some English establishments including the Hook Norton Brewery in the beautiful Cotswolds villages of England.

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