Saturday, May 17, 2008

Eating London

While some people measure their London experiences by how much stuff they can buy, in a way, I measure mine by food. That is, I like trying cuisine that is new or different, or at least not what I'd eat on a regular basis. Being a vegetarian, that's not always easy because most dishes have some kind of meat in it. Interestingly enough, London seems to be a very "vegetarian friendly" city. Most places has some kind of veggie alternative. In fact, my hotel has a veggie version of the traditional English breakfast which consists of two really fat link sausages, baked beans, mushrooms, tomato, eggs, ham and hash browns. Mine, of course, had no ham and substituted a really tasty veggie sausage. (This breakfast my roommates and I received free because our weird European tub faucet wouldn't shut off, and there was no maintenance staff available to fix it for two hours.) There is a nice vegan vegetarian restaurant in West Kensington called 222 Veggie Vegan. While there a had a nice tomato, cucumber and smoked tofu salad, and a really fancy-named dish that turned out to be spaghetti and tofu, the sauce very heavy on the Cabernet.

At Portobello Market today, I tried a Ghanaian dish called Spinach and Agushi with rice. Agushi is crushed melon seeds which is kind of mixed into the spinach...very spicy and really good with the rice which was sort of similar to Spanish rice. Then of course, although I am vegetarian, I had to try some fish and chips, which is simply one big piece of deep fried cod and french fries. (Paris actually does have really good french fries, by the way. That and salad was mostly what I ate for the day there; with a few pieces of cucumber sushi.) I've also been to a couple of Indian restaurants; a really nice one in Salisbury (after our Stonehenge trip) called Shah Jahan. But both don't seem to serve traditional Indian chai tea, and they seem to think I don't know what chai tea is. (The waiter in Salisbury even laughed nervously at the fact that I even could pronounce 'chai', and still brought me what tasted like plain 'ole tea. Anyway, I'm just going to assume they don't serve it here.)

And, speaking of sushi, I found this cool little place recommended by Rick Steves (PBS's Travels in Europe). It's near Piccadilly Circus and it's called Yo! Sushi. They prepare sushi which they place on a conveyor belt and you pick whichever one you want. The color of the plate tells you what the price is. I chose about three purple plates of vegetable and salmon sushi. They even have sparkling water on tap right at the bar in front of you. (Have to hit that one again before I leave town.)

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

My Wicked Adventure

So this evening, after having spent the day at the Victoria and Albert Museum, I rushed back to do laundry over on Queensway. It's been a week since I got to London, and after a week, sharing a small European-style hotel room with two other people gets to be a little...well, let's just say I needed some "me" time. So,after dropping my clothes back by my hotel room, I jumped on the train at Bayswater, went to the Victoria Apollo to see the musical Wicked. (Using my student ID, I got fourth row seats for twenty-five pounds) It's a cool take on the story about the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz, before Dorothy dropped a house on her sister. Actually, the actress that played Glenda the Good came pretty close to stealing the show, and I can't get that song "Popular" out of my head.

Well, after the show was over, I crossed the street to Victoria Station and guess what? I hopped on the wrong train. Then, when I got to Vauxhall Station, I jumped off expecting to take the next train back to Victoria, only to find out that no more trains were coming in or out of Vauxhall. So, I had to go up to the street and take a bus back to Victoria, where I ducked into Marks & Spencer to grab a Hummus and Roasted Vegetable sandwich. I made it to the Circle Line platform, where I took the next train back to Bayswater. I'm feeling pretty close to being fully acclimated to the trains here, and I know that's going to be the first thing I miss when I'm back in Atlanta traffic.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Live From London

Wow, what a great way to end the semester. I paid three pounds to use a computer in my hotel for an hour, so I suppose I should make it quick. So far, London has been pretty cool, I must say. I've been here for four days now, and I've visited the British Museum, Windsor Castle, the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, I saw the Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre (which is a blog all by itself)and the highlight...I spent yesterday in Paris where I saw the Eiffel Tour, the Arc de Triumph and the Louve....Thoughts...maybe it's me, but here in London, I'm not conscious of my blackness. I'm not sure how to explain that, and it's not that I've read to much James Baldwin or Richard Wright or Nina Simone. You may know that London is an international city, so there's nothing special about being white, or black or whatever. I don't feel as though people look at me and wonder, "what's that black women doing here in our neighborhood?" or "I'm gonna watch that black woman in my store, because you know they steal." Maybe it's still too soon to tell, but if I get noticed, it's because of my accent...especially in France.

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Moving Right Along

Well the weather is warming up and another semester is coming to a close. And while I still have old co-workers asking, "So, when are you coming back to work?" and "Be careful, you might be too old to get a job in that field by the time you finish school," I still say, it's not the destination, it's the flowers you pick along the way. And while throughout the semester I was never quite able to get into it, I managed to finish up with an improved GPA.

So, now with one last paper to turn in, I look forward to a productive summer which will include two classes,(one a graduate class to spruce up my transcript), a part-time job, and the GRE. But,'s off to London town to chill with Liz, eat some fish n'chips, Piccadilly Circus, the British Museum and a weekend in Paris.

And although I hear that London is a rather cosmopolitan, relatively integrated place, I'm still curious to find those places that may be predominantly black...don't know why...I just think it would be interesting to see how and where regular black people like myself live in other places. Nevertheless, I plan on having a great time. Meanwhile, Paul Gilroy has written about race relations in Britian and is "renowned for his work exploring the social and cultural dimensions of black Britishness." Not to mention that really cool photo on the front of his book...

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Friday, May 02, 2008

Down Easy With Dessert

A serving of the chocolate lava pie with vanilla ice cream would be necessary if I were going to go through with this. He always made me feel so inadequate with his high achieving M.B.A., his 653 hours of available sick leave and his perfect dental records. I feel a little disappointing, but this is the perfect opportunity for me to move on.
“Are you stressing about something, Jacie?” He asked, lowering his fork to the starched, white tablecloth. I picked Café Balabans for this occasion because it is his most favorite place to eat in the West End. It has always seemed a little pretentious to me; the Pasta Mauri Mauri and all. I prefer my ground beef cooked. But this was a regular haunt of his boss, and Preston looked forward to the moments we would run into him.
“Why would I be stressing?” I stuffed a piece of chocolate lava pie so big into my mouth that a little drip of chocolate oozed from the left corner, and I had to swipe it with my tongue.
“You know I hate it when you overeat”, he began, “I’m beginning to think you’re doing it to spite me.” It’s like him to think that it’s all about him.
“Actually,” I started.
“Ah, you are stressing.”
“I’ve been offered a job at a university. It’s an associate professorship; tenure track.” I explained.
“And what’s your excuse for not taking this one?”
“Actually, I will take it.” I said.
“Oh, then they must offer snacks.” He smiled a little at his own quip, and I thought, you jackass.
My weight was not an issue in the beginning, but he saw me as one of his projects. It was his intention to have me in the gym five days a week. First, he said I was being passive aggressive, then finally just down right stubborn when I’d called to say I had to meet with some collogues or students after work. Then on the days when I simply went straight home to work on my book, he told me I was just being plain lazy.
“The position is in Boston.” I loaded another scoop of chocolate and made room in my mouth for the ice cream. “I’ve already had my things moved from the apartment”, I told him.
“What are you talking about?” He was taken aback.
“While you were at work today, I got all of my stuff. I’m not coming home with you Preston.” I stuck my finger in the chocolate on the plate and licked it slowly.
“And you were going to tell me when?” I could hear the crescendo in his voice. His nose was flaring just as his boss walked into the restaurant with his wife. Now I knew he would not make a scene.
“After dessert.”

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