(Post #3 on trip to England)
There’s something to be said about breaking bread with a person. Not to over-spiritualize it but the New Testament seems to talk a lot about the early church fellowshiping or breaking bread together; hanging out. To me, there’s something meaningful about having a good meal with someone. It seems the best way to get to know a person; to sit face to face or shoulder to shoulder, just spending time together while eating good food. I think spending time with Nick’s family eating a good meal was some of my favorite times. They were all really “lovely” people and I feel like I know them more now that we’ve broken bread together.
Food and people just go together and so they do in this post.
Now the British aren’t wildly famous for their cuisine. But I’m not going to join the “English food is so bland” bandwagon. I don’t think that’s true either. All in all, it was pretty much the same. America isn’t famous for it’s dishes either (I mean, unless you count McDonald’s, of course). You can find most of the same brands there. I will say that the food in the grocery stores is quite a bit cheaper there, even with the exchange rate (the exchange rate made Jon cry). Cheese (good cheese) is actually better and cheaper there. Beer is a far cry better. Other than that, it’s about the same. For my Non-GMO food friends, they have the same problems there as we have here, although I saw lots of signs for local markets and farm fresh foods. I think they’re pushing the “let’s get back” route more than we are. Come on England, if you can push to Non-GMO, then maybe we will follow! France has banned GMO’s so if you ever get to go there, enjoy your eating freedom!
Eating out is more expensive (at least most of the places we went), so my advice to anyone visiting England is to save money on lodge and food (our place was pretty cheap for a week and was very clean and comfortable) and spend the money in seeing things and traveling (most everything we wanted to do seemed to cost 18-20 pounds per person which exchanges to 28-31 dollars a person- ouch!). Going to the market and cooking at your rental will be fun and save money. Eat out during the day, when you’re out and about at little fish and chips and kebab shops or pick up a pasty. Those places are very affordable and filling.
These yummy cornish pasties we had at a shop in Canterbury. They come in many different flavors (mom had some sort of Indian flavored pasty, Jon and I had a chicken and vegetable, and Brian, Pam, and Nick had sausage rolls). The best way I can describe them is that they’re like handheld potpies with a flakier crust. Very good and very filling. The picture in the top right is Jon and I with Brian and Pam. You can’t really tell…because my mom took the picture, let’s leave it at that. 😉
We met Nick’s parents and two uncles at a village called Loose for lunch at The Chequers. I’ve always wanted to try Moussaka and so I ordered that (top picture) and it was very, very good…but…it’s not traditionally a British dish, it’s the dish that the Greeks are most famous for. According to About.com, Moussaka is a casserole made by layering eggplant with a spiced meat filling then topping it off with a creamy bechamel sauce (a white cream sauce) that is baked to golden perfection. Mine had the eggplant and potatoes and something that had a risotto-type texture and was vegetarian. And yes, that’s cheese melted all over top. Very tasty and not bland at all! Jon had a cheeseburger with a pico de gallo topping. Not very British either but also good. 🙂
Indian restaurants are to England like Mexican restaurants are to America. They are everywhere. We ate at one in West Malling and had a lot of food. We all shared the different types of dishes (that my mom could name for you but I cannot remember whatsoever).
Another night, we met up with another one of Nick’s aunts and uncles and went to a very nice Chinese restaurant with them and Brian and Pam. We had starters and then all ordered a main course to share. The have a large lazy susan in the middle of every table that makes it very convenient to spin around and get a taste of everything. It was a great evening with great food!
So, yes, we went to England and ate Greek, Indian, and Chinese. But I think my favorite meal was sitting on Brian and Pam’s couch with a cup of “Brian’s Famous Tea” (as named by Jon- he didn’t think anyone else could make it like Brian) and Pam’s cheese sandwich. The warmth of their little flat is nothing compared to the warmth of these two people. They’re the kind of people that you immediately feel comfortable with and anyone would want them to be their grandparents. I feel like these moments were the best, “British” moments we could have had. I am horribly sad that I didn’t take any pictures of these moments. The rest of the evenings we snacked on chips (crisps), meat pies, cheese, bread, and beer in our little bungalow watching shows on BBC (Big Hairy Bakers needs to come to America- we loved it!). It was a very relaxing comfortable way to spend our evenings after our days of walking.
When you go on these kinds of trips you are very aware of your surroundings and the sights and never forget to take pictures of these, but the moments on the davenport are perhaps the most important. Remember to take pictures of these.