Eating and Drinking, Going Out in London
The english cuisine is quite disreputable, a thing that is certainly not fully justified. There are surely things a continental European can hardly get used to. Those who spend some time in England will soon painfully miss brown bread and rolls and also the passioned sausage eater will not get his money worth. Fish and chips, an english "national dish", is also not everyone's cup of tea. But specially in the big cities, thus for example in London, there are numerous restaurants of different nations in which one practically finds the whole culinary world. The Indian restaurants are specially popular among the London people; And it is a must to visit at least once an original English pub. Atmosphere, flair and also the beer are simply unique there. Unfortunately, this can be also said about the prices.
If one sees a group of people holding a glass of beer in their hands at noon time or in the evening, one can be sure that there is a pub in the proximity. This culture of sociability is still widely spread, also if the supermarkets became big competitors with their cheap canned beer. The cult of the afternoon-tea is world-wide famous and the hallmark of the English people, whereby this tradition is increasingly reserved to hotels and the upper society, as the tea time is very time consuming.
As known, tastes differ and due to this, the different cultures partly also have a very different taste concerning food and drinks. In England, German people find some culinary specialities and habits very unusual.
A deeply British habit is the ceremony of the afternoon tea, or, as the English say, tea time. Between 03.00 and 06.00 p.m., this tradition is celebrated, today it takes primarily place in hotels in such an extent. Thereby, one should never appear in casual wear, festive clothes are obligatory. This ceremony is also not cheap. Depending on the time, some sandwiches or fish, as for example smoked salmon, are served with the tea or, if later, priorly sweets as tartlets, cake or scones. Scones are soft raisin cakes that are warmly eaten with butter and honey or marmelade, often with clotted cream, a kind of thick cream. All this is very rich in calories, so that afterwards, one can start dinner being alredy well satisfied.
Famous and notorious but actually unjustifiedly, is the English breakfast. Thereby, scrambled eggs with ham or bacon are indispensable, with it, small grilled sausages are served which consistence is certainly something that German palates need to get used to. Additionally, white beans in tomato sauce, mushrooms and many times also porridge is served. Also toast and marmelade are additionally served. As beverage, coffee or tea is served.
By the way, one will experience a lack of understanding of the English people by wanting generally marmalade. The English marmalade is a very special orange jam with bitter oranges. The others are called "jam".
The traditional dish fish and chips is very popular among the English people. It is a fried fish filet in a crust of batter, served with chips, in the English version comparable to pommes frites, but here they are rather soft and baggy.
If one gets yorkshire pudding offered, one does not get pudding. The name confuses German people. Yorkshire Pudding is a salty dough that is baken together with the joint. Most of the times, English puddings consist on a heavy dough that is very greasy and sweet and fruits, raisins or nuts are added to.
Lamb chops with mint sauce or the classic steak kidney pie are dishes that are oftenly served for dinner. And what would be the English people without the apparently most famous dish, the sandwiches. The name comes from the fourth Earl of Sandwiches, who was such a passioned gambler that he, despite of upcoming hunger, absolutely did not want to interrupt the game. Thus he simply got a slice of meat put between two slices of white bread and by this way, he casually invented this english traditional dish.
Those who visit a pub will traditionally drink ale. This beer is not comparable to the german one, as the English brewers conserved the top-fermented brewing style. This beer is rather comparable with the alt beer (dark beer of Duesseldorf)or kölsch (dark beer of Cologne). And, they contain less alcohol than German beer, a thing that must not be bad. Those who expect a real head on one beer will be disappointed in England. Traditionally, the beer is pumped by hand, the sparkling with which the German beer is carbonated is missing. Furthermore, one does not order a "large" or a "small" one, one drinks, for example, "a pint of bitter" that corresponds to approximately 0,57 litres or, for the case one does not want so much, "a half pint".
Now, the Scotch whisky could be mentioned, but this would not be appreciated by the Scotts. Finally, the drink is Scottish and not English.
Some Locals in London
London has, believe it or not, approximately 3800 pubs, this is after all 9 % of all pubs in Great Britain; No tourist can try all these pubs. But the few ones we visited we want to introduce herewith briefly.
At the Bridge Street, in close proximity to the Prliament and Westminster Abbey, there is the St. Stevens Tavern, a local in Victorian style that rther seems unimpressive form outside, but is really gorgeous inside. At the counter, that already is feast for the eyes, one can make one's order that is then served. Of course, drinks are offered, also tap-beer, and some dishes. All this is available to more or less moderte prices and with a good service. The view from the window to Westminster is very interesting. The alternative is a seat in the upper floor, from which one can look down to the tables of the lower floor. Due to the nice situation of the pub, it is self evident that sometimes it is difficult to get a seat.
There are a few Cafè Rouges in London, it is pub a chain. As the name insinuates, French cuisine is offered; We were in a Cafè Rouge at St. Paul's Churchyard, in front of St. Paul's Cathedral. It is a quite nice local, in which one gets good food and drinks for acceptable prices. The furnishing, service, food and drinks on the menu are fair average. It is not a restaurant that one keeps in mind for a long time, but it serves its purpose that is to satisfy hunger and thirst, specially if one plans to climb the 426 stairs of the St. Paul's Tower.
The pub The Volunteer is situated right beside the Sherlock Holmes Museum at the Baker Street. After visiting the museum with a very old English furnishing, a refreshment is surely welcomed. But therefore, it is only needed to get to the neighboured house and primarily satisfy one's thirst, as the food offer is quite spare. The pub gives a dapper impression, is rustically furnished with wooden tables and stools and also offers some tables at the exterior on the foot path; Either for the outdoor seats as also for the interior, self service is applied.
The pub The Monument is located at a side street at the Monument, a large column that should remind on a devastating fire in London. From here, it is not far to the Thames and to the Parliament. By this way, the pub is convenient if one is in this city area and wants to have a refreshment. Here, there is hustle and bustle specially in the evening.
At the other side of the Thames, the south bank, there is, at the height of the Hays Galleria, the pub The Horniman at Hay's. It is also a local that is very atmospherically arranged and is presented in the Victorin style. Here, one also gets a huge choice of different drinks and English cuisine. The pub is a popular meeting point for tourists., as different sightseeings as for example the museum vessel HMS Belfast, the Tower Bridge or St. Paul's Cathedral are comfortably accessible on foot.
The pub The Salisbury has a wonderful Victorian furnishing with marble columns, an arrangement with polished glass and red velvet chairs. It is actually always busy, the local is situated at the theater district of London, the St. Martin's Lane. Despite of the posh appearance, the prices are bearable.
The Lucas Arms at the Gray's Inn Road is only at a few minutes walk distance from the crosspoint King's Cross Station / St. Pancras. I recommend this local to those who arrive there or change. It is situated in an interesting building and if the weather is fine, one can also use the outdoor seats. The food is served and there is a music box as a clou.
Prospect of Whitby, this actually does not sound like a local but it is in deed a very interesting pub, the oldest at the Thames. It exists since 1502. In former times, it was a place of smugglers and it was also used as a place from which the execution of the death sentences in the closely located place of execution could be watched.
If one is on a tour in Greenwich, at the street from the landing place of the ship, one comes straight across to the Greenwich park and to the local Kings Arms. It is a very nice pub with a beer garden; Right beside, there is a snack bar, at which the food is cheaper, but the choice is smaller and where it is less comfortable to sit. In Kings Arms, one orders at the counter, gets a number and the ordered things are served. The food is abundant, good and to a reasonable price. Of course, it is double as much fun to sit outside in the beer garden if the weather is fine, but the local staff cannot influence this.
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Author: Michael Nitzschke, Copyright: Patrick Wagner, www.tourist-guide.biz