I remember someone once telling me that the British are famous for having bad teeth and good shoes. It was pretty funny at the time although I really didn't have enough first-hand experience to know if it was true. Now that I've been to London, I can definitely say that I saw some great shoes and some bad teeth. I don't know if either were better or worse than anywhere else but it got me thinking about other British/English cliches like the one that says British food is not very good.
My experiences with British food prior to this trip was at English and Irish pubs in the U.S. where they serve a mish-mash of food from the region including fish-n-chips, curried this-and-that, and so on. Other than that, I only had trips to Ireland and Scotland years before where I figured the food would be similar. The food in both of those countries turned out to be really good so I was looking forward to sampling the local food and drink in England.
My first meal was about an hour after arriving to town and it was at a fairly dirty-looking Indian take-out place near the B and B. I ate a super-greasy curried chicken and rice dish that was both cheap and surprisingly good. For dinner that night at a local pub filled with about 50% tourists, I ordered the "Pub Food Combo" and this is what I got:
It was a combo of mostly fried foods like chips (french fries), fish (as in fish-n...), bangers (sausage), mashed potatoes, a meat pie, gravy, and a couple of other items. It was sooooo typical and touristy that it made me happy. They must make a mint on serving up food like this to tourists. My guess is that it costs about $9 U.S. for this combo but they charge something like $23 U.S. for it. It turned out to be pretty good but nothing to write home about (oh, wait...).
The next day I ordered a meat pie with veggies. Growing up my parents used to make what we called "pot pie", which was similar. It's a pastry shell with a meat, veggie, and gravy filling that gets baked. I loved them as a kid and this meal made me reminisce about those days.
You might notice that I ordered an Aspall's cider for my drink. One thing that's great about being somewhere in the U.K. is that they serve draft ciders for folks like me that don't like beer. As with the apfelwein in Germany, I had more than a couple of them while there.
On my last day in town, I went to another local pub and ordered a beef-and-veggie dish along with another Aspall's. It was just okay to be honest and a bit pricey at something like $19 U.S. not including the drinks.
The food in London turned out to be good but not great. I didn't have any one meal that stands out in my memory like I did while in Ireland and Scotland. I'm sure with a local I could get much better since they'd know where to look. So let's review:
Good Shoes? Definitely.
Bad teeth? There were some.
Bad food? Not really. Overall pretty good but it left me wanting to dive deeper...maybe with a local guide next time.
Cliches debunked? Maybe.
Cheers for the fun quick visit London. See you next time.