London: Europe’s Little America

Posted on February 26th, 2012 by

Angry Nostrils

How is this pudding?

The first stop once I arrived in England was naturally the grocery store. It really was a candyland of not easily available foods in Germany. For example, I stocked up on bagels, peanut butter, and chocolate chip cookies. We also got some stereotypically British foods such as Yorkshire puddings (not pudding at all; just like an edible gravy boat), scones (horrendous), and pancakes (the British version). The pancakes were a necessity, because just after I was leaving, it was Pancake Day. On this day, apparently everyone in Britain eats pancakes. In America, this is known as Mardi Gras and people do things that are cooler than eating pancakes. America 2: England 0 (just thought I’d throw the Revolutionary War in there). Another interesting happening at the grocery store was that when you get near the checkout counters, you notice a man with a big arrow saying, “This queue’s short.” So instead of you toiling over whether to keep going down the row of counters looking for a shorter line or just committing to the first one you see, this guy does it for you. The jury is still out on whether that’s smart or asinine. While we’re on the topic of British innovation, there are some words they use that are absolutely magical. For example, nappies, people carrying vehicles (abbreviated PCVs), and flu jabs. Respectively, these are diapers, vans, and flu vaccines (“Mum, throw the kids in the back of the PCV, we need to go to the grocer to pick up some nappies and get the kid’s their flu jabs”).

The impetus for going to London is that my aunt, uncle, and two cousins live there (although one is leaving to go start a game reserve in Sri Lanka; kinda cool). They’ve been here a while so we’ve come our fair share of times. The last time was in ’07 just before starting college and before that was in 2002 (I know this simply because the World Cup was going on; soccer is a typical point of reference for the events in my life).  During those trips I’ve seen most of the major stereotypical monuments and the ones that are most important to me (Arsenal’s Highbury and Man U’s Old Trafford). This time, we explored more of the places typical Londoners would actually go rather than standing in front of the Queen’s Guard and trying to make them laugh.

Don't worry kids, they're sleeping

Anyway, my cousin, Niresh, and I went one day to a place called Borough Market. The food there looked, smelled, and tasted incredible (gastronomic heaven). There were all kinds of crazy things prepared fresh by people from all over the globe. So cool. You’d have braces of rabbits just hanging from walls, the massive Spanish cured ham legs, and all kinds of other delectable items just hanging out. From the moment I walked in, I was upset I had eaten breakfast that day (should’ve planned ahead). After assessing all of the various stands (took a couple hours), we decided on two things. The first was a pork and crackling sandwich. With APPLESAUCE. Apparently, pork and applesauce is totally normal in the UK, and it was surprisingly quite good. The second item was a duck sandwich. Now if you’re getting an image of Daffy Duck between two slices of bread, it’s a bit different. It looks kind of like a Philly cheese steak and that was also very tasty. We washed it all down with “the World’s Best Mulled Wine.” World’s biggest lie actually. From there, we started walking home along the Thames which took us past the London Eye, Globe Theater, Big Ben, and a crazy group of African performers. These guys were amazing. They did all kinds of acrobatics and something else kind of cool. A guy folded his entire body into a tray. This is an entire human being in a circular tray with a diameter of maybe a foot and a half. That’s not normal.

Don't try this at home

That night we went out with some of Niresh’s work friends. In order to go out in London, you need to be dressed up. For my entire journey, I had a backpack, so needless to say, I didn’t have nice clothes along with me. This led me to borrow some of my cousin’s dress clothes. After some searching, we actually found some things that looked pretty good even though he has a few inches on me. The real issue came about with the shoes. He wears like size 11 or 12 shoes. I wear the same size but in childrens. With that said, these things felt like clown shoes. My toes were literally three inches from the end of the shoe. I ended up needing to stuff socks in there, but by the end of the night, I didn’t even notice anymore. Anyway, as we’re leaving Niresh warned me that it’s very English to “take the piss out of each other” (make fun of each other), so not to be offended if it comes to me. He wasn’t lying. And it was absolutely hilarious. Eventually we made our way to a club. Unfortunately, it was playing garage music (and I was constantly reminded that garage rhymes with carriage here) which sucks big time. Not that it’s that much worse than Berlin’s love of electronic. But either way, it was an enjoyable evening shooting the breeze with some Brits.

Angry Nostrils

Another day we went to a part of London known as Camden. It’s famous for both its lock (used to raise and lower boats) and market. The part of the market we went to is known as the Stables. It’s so named, because it’s an old, massive stable and horse hospital. Now small shops occupy what were formerly the stables for horses. These small places sell all kinds of things. You can get everything from Goth clothing to Chinese handicrafts to clocks made out of vodka bottles. But the store that took the cake is called Cyberdog. You walk in and your senses are utterly bombarded. The place is bathed in blue neon light and trance music is blaring. Then you notice two girls in silver, futuristic-looking clothing dancing on elevated stages like they’re just slightly more human than a robot. Odd. Also, all of the clothing they sell looks like what you would perceive the future to look like when we’re all living in space (so Zenon Girl of the Twenty-first Century; yeah, try to pretend like you don’t know what I’m talking about). I would tell you more about the things they sold there, but I have no idea how to describe a majority of the things in that store (other than saying futuristic, shiny, and neon). But really, what kind of person, outside of the cast of Tron, wears these things is a mystery to me. By the time we left, I was just proud of myself for not having a seizure.

Well, so caps a scant recollection of my travels in Europe. Now it’s back to Berlin and the grindstone.

Hugs and hand pounds,

Hassie

 


6 Comments

  1. Meredith Feenstra says:

    My family eats applesauce with pork chops. I think it’s nasty, but evidence that there are some Americans who fancy it.

  2. Meredith Feenstra says:

    (also I LOVE zenon)

  3. AJR says:

    How is it possible that you went to London and did not go to White Hart Lane? Where else are you going to get my Spurs paraphernalia?

    • Hasanga Samaraweera says:

      I wanted to, but they’ve stopped letting people into White Hart Lane. Something about ‘arry Redknapp scaring the children.