In this week's post, Genevieve discusses the cultural variety of cuisine that she's discovered since moving to London. From British Pub food and Russian Cafes to Indian curries and vegan falafel stands, she shares 5 of her go-to places for food in London.
Comfort food is something that all students in college become acquainted with. Whether that means the gooey cheese on a pizza or hot broth of chicken noodle soup, those two words bring certain food to mind. Food is universally unique, each culture adapting ingredients to fit their tastes. Comfort food is especially important to me when I am far from home. A whiff of the aroma of baking bread and I immediately feel at peace in my surroundings, whether or not they are familiar. However, I am not prefacing this blog post with comfort food to say that it is important for study abroad students. While it is interesting how students bring their food with them, it is even more fascinating to see the all of the food that London has to offer. London is aptly described as a global city. Layers of culture overlap as immigrants from all over the globe come together in one city. Each cultural group carries their history and traditions in the food that they eat and crave when they are far from home. I have never been in a city that so obviously displays the importance of food and culture as London. On my street alone, there is a Russian café, a British pub, a Chinese street food stall, a fish and chips shop, a middle eastern style market place, multiple Ethiopian, Indian, Japanese, and Thai restaurants, and even a fancy Nepali place. When people move to London, they are not required to sacrifice their cultural identity. Acculturation does not stifle this city as it does other countries. From the curry of Brick Lane to the Doner Kebabs on each street corner, culture and food are linked in this city.
The diversity of authentic food joints allows for a unique opportunity. In my small college town back in the states, we have a handful of Thai and Mexican restaurants and only two Chinese spots, which seems like a very small student to dumpling ratio to me. However, in London, I can not only experience many different kinds of food, but also learn about the culture that created them through a little conversation with the owners of the restaurant. London allows me to see the intricacies of British culture and how it interacts with other cultures. I have compiled a list of a few of my favorite spots that have given me a taste for what the UK has to offer:
1. The Coeur de Lion
The sweet potato and squash pie was perfect after a day of walking.
I am cheating with this one since it is in Bath, but it is a perfect example of traditional British pub food that can be found throughout London and the UK. Plus, the sweet potato and squash pie was beautiful and delicious. This is the smallest pub in Bath and offers a variety of delicious dishes that scream traditional British food. British food is hearty and filling, and if I ate it every day, I think I would have a heart attack. Pubs offer the quintessential British food experience, but make sure to order at the bar and then they find you. My friends and I had to discover that the hard way on our first day here.
2. Liz Café
Liz Café is great for studying and learning Russian.
Liz Café is a small sandwich and tea spot down the street from me. It offers good food, coffee, and a lovely atmosphere to study. It could fool you into thinking that it is British; however, the owners and most of the customers are Eastern European and Russian. They are friendly and the owner is often seen bustling about behind the counter, willing to chat.
3. China Wok
China Wok is cheap and tasty...perfect for University students.
China Wok is right outside my apartment and the perfect place for a broke college student. A full box (which is enough food for three meals) is only £5 and spring rolls are 5 for £1. The owners are Chinese and are quite friendly, meaning this is the perfect place for a broke college student craving a quick dinner. The food was tasty, and didn’t make me sick, which is always a victory for me when I try street food.
4. Camden Market Food Stalls
Vegan falafel and cookie dough are just two options available at Camden Market.
Camden Market, like most markets in London, hosts a variety of food options. While it is not as advanced as Borough market, the variety in this one space is incredible. I opted for a vegan falafel place and ended with vegan cookie dough for dessert. The cultures represented in this one space provides the ultimate comfort food experience for any person.
5. Shepherd's Bush Market
Shepherd’s Bush Market is home to all kinds of satisfying meals
This is the final stop on this food tour, and it houses China Wok and a multitude of Falafel stalls, Curry houses, and even the Laundry Yard, which is an up and coming foodie spot. The Market feels like stepping into another culture entirely, with its bazaar-esque stands and countless mounds of goods being sold, from fresh fruit to suitcases to home appliances. The food in this market is good and cheap, which is a must when living in London. It represents multiple cultures finding shelter in one corner of London, and inviting in tourists like me to experience something new.
London hosts a world of cultural foods, including a couple Hungarian bakeries, which I am excited to try since I grew up there. This city doesn’t discriminate against people or food, but welcomes it all with open arms and empty stomachs.
Genevieve Rice is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. An English Literature major at Anderson University, she is studying abroad in London this semester.
Genevieve's journey continues every Monday so stay tuned.