Saturday, August 22, 2009

Europe 2009

République française (France)United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (England)Danmark (Denmark)
"I fooled her," I thought. On the Eurostar from Paris to London, I was in the bar car ordering a snack when the attendant asked me to repeat my order. "Le Rapide, si vous plais," I repeated more clearly, emphasizing the hard "d". She started rattling away in French and my mind immediately froze. In a now halting voice, all trace of accent gone, I feebly asked that she speak more slowly. "Oh, you're American," she replied in English. "I thought you were French." My chest puffed out, my ego doubled in size and just as quickly deflated upon the realization that my French comprehension really sucks. Oh well....
That little shortcoming aside, it was a fantastic trip. The French, in my opinion, still hold on to the culinary crown. At any corner bistro, sit down to a gastronomic masterpiece with maybe five ingredients and a flare for presentation with just the flick of a wrist.  But the English have come into their own with chefs young and old re-defining British cuisine. In a small countryside inn, I experienced the beatitude of transcendence with my first Michelin Star meal, an epiphany. And Denmark continues the long-held tradition of breaking bread together. All are welcome at her table.
Hôtel de Ville, Paris FranceTudor architecture (detail), Oxford University, UK
I was so happy to be the solo traveler this time around. It afforded me the luxury of reacquainting myself with favorite sights seen with an older eye and at a different angle.
Elizabeth I - Unknown artist"Woman With Parasol Turned to Left" - Claude Monet
Old friends awaited in galleries in London and Paris. I stood with goose flesh in the presence of royalty and enveloped by the colors of the Impressionists.
Menu, Maria's Bourough Cafe, London EnglandMenu, Le Petit Châtelet, Paris France
I tried new things. I ordered off the menu, attempting a native casualness and never walked away disappointed.
Confit of aubergine, Duke's Head, Putney, UKBriny olives, Jamie's Italian, Oxford, UK
It was a period of respite and great excitement all at the same time. I visited loved ones from my past and made new friends along the way. I hope they will become good mates with time. It was a homecoming and a farewell party wrapped into one. I don't know when I'll be back, and thus treated every second there as if it could be my last.
I came home tired, thrilled, renewed, reflective. It will probably take weeks of debriefing, but this I know intuitively: we are, all of us, connected to one another. We dream, we love, we hurt, we laugh. Our commonalities bind us. Our differences are trivial. I am more in love with this planet and its people than ever. And I'm gonna spread that love through my stories and in opening my kitchen to all of you, who and wherever you are.
Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food

1 comment:

Jeff (UK) said...

Have I told you lately that I really enjoy the way you write? It was great to be a small part of your great adventure - and we certainly hope you'll make it an annual pilgrimage. There are still so many things we didn't see, or eat for that matter. Looking forward to reading about it all.