Slow Food and Backwards Walking

The best meal I’ve had in London yet came from Nigel Slater‘s cookbook and A’s kitchen. There should have been a menu, because surely everything we ate last night had fancy names and fresh ingredients. I’m no restaurateur, but I’ll try making some up.

The menu: Bruschetta with roasted tomatoes (that’s to-mah-toes to you), butternut squash pasty, roasted new potatoes (likewise, po-tah-toes), and a fresh green salad. White chocolate raspberry pie with graham cracker crust for dessert. Served with wine, and followed by tea and coffee. With candlelight, conversation and lots of laughter (over not a few bad jokes).

People often ask me to explain what I mean when I say that London feels slower than New York. The friends whose shadows you see around the dining table asked me about this last night, too. What I should have said is, this very dinner is proof. You are proof. When would this ever happen in New York? It’s a wondrously rare thing when someone stands over a stove for hours to prepare a meal, sets the dining table, lights the candles and reserves a whole evening just to sit around and enjoy good conversation with friends.

Yes, it does happen in New York too—but rarely (D+K if you’re reading this, don’t be miffed; I am thinking of your incredible eggs benedict as I write this!). On a typical weekend in NYC, I’d be knocking elbows with neighbors at a crowded restaurant, then hollering at a bar just to be heard, then taking off for the next social event (or two) of the evening and getting home around 3 am on an early night.

It is highly possible, of course, that the above all happens here too, and I just so managed to be lucky enough to meet a group of people who like to enjoy life, community and friendship the way I do. Just like we were debating yesterday whether E’s having witnessed people walking backwards up Victoria Peak could then be extrapolated to make the wider claim that “people walk backwards in Hong Kong,” there’s no knowing whether my experience thus far has been the main or the minority.

But who cares? If I like walking backwards, I’ll join a backwards walking group. If I want to pub crawl every Thursday night, I could find like-minded people who enjoy the same. That’s the beauty of cities—there’s something for everyone. You make your own experience.

Thanks, A, for making this one possible. A lovely, fulfilling evening for both soul and stomach!

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