Tuesday, 15 November 2011


It seems a long time since we mentioned food in our morning conversations. Well, alright - I mentioned crème brûlée yesterday but that wasn't really the subject of the conversation. Conversation? Hardly. Monologue would perhaps be a more accurate description. So, it seems a long time since one of my morning posts was about food. Is that better? Are my pernickety readers satisfied now? Hah! Did you notice? I referred to readers (plural). Ever the optimist.

Well now, dear reader, if you were to visit Brighton and I were to take you to a different restaurant for dinner every day of your stay, you could stay for over a year and still not visit a restaurant twice. Throw in all the pubs that serve food (as opposed to pork pies, salt and vinegar crisps and small packets of peanuts) and you could extend your stay to two years. Brighton - or, more specifically, the city of Brighton & Hove - is supposed to have more restaurants per thousand inhabitants than any other town or city in Britain, except for London. And I reckon we give London a run for its money.

Not only is there a wide range of establishments for dining, there is also a very wide range of cuisines. We have French restaurants and Italian, Chinese and Indian, Thai and Mongolian, Turkish and Greek, Spanish, Japanese, American. And English, of course. Actually, that "of course" is extraneous; there is no "of course" about it. Well, perhaps there is now, but twenty years ago there wasn't. We had a young Frenchman staying with us for the better part of a year. I think he was about 21 at the time. He was a typically French charmer but had come to England expecting it to rain every day and actually dreading the food. He got sunburnt on our beach and quickly decided that English food and cooking was far, far better than he had been told. He wanted to visit a restaurant where the food was traditional English but we had great difficulty in finding such a thing. Nowadays there are carveries where one can eat a roast dinner (traditionally English) every day - and sometimes for silly prices that are almost less than it would cost to provide the same meal at home.

We also seem to have quite a wide range of nationalities owning our restaurants. At one time they were mainly Greek Cypriot - and they are still around - but of course we also have Chinese and Indian/Pakistani although a lot now are Iranian. Our local Italian restaurant is staffed by Albanians.

Well, somehow I haven't really mentioned food today either, apart from a glancing blow. There's always tomorrow!


Uncle Skip, said...

I was going to say that you somehow managed to avoid actually talking about food, but you beat me to it. Even at that you've managed to stir up some hunger pangs.

Buck said...

Actually, that "of course" is extraneous; there is no "of course" about it. Well, perhaps there is now, but twenty years ago there wasn't.

Forgive me, but everything I'd ever heard about English cuisine came true when I went to live in England in 1980. Your reference to 20 years ago... that would be about 1991, right... seems to be about the time English cooking took its turn for the better. There was a ten year lapse between the time I left London in 1983 and when I made several return trips for business and pleasure in the mid-90s. Both my ex-wife and I had occasion to ask ourselves "What happened?" when it came to food... we were amazed, and very pleasantly so. English cuisine is indeed world-class these days.

Yet the stereotype remains. I still have to disabuse folks of the notion that English food is all over-cooked veggies and bad bread. Quite often, too.

Suldog said...

I'll go somewhere in-between you and Buck (but not literally, please.)

I've had great meals in England and some very bad ones, too. All of my experiences are 1980 or earlier, as my last time in the land was February of 1980.

The best I can recall was at a place that damn well should have been good - Simpson's On The Strand. I had a mutton there that I still pine for more of.

(Mutton is almost impossible to get on these shores, unless you want to go to a specialty butcher and order at exorbitant prices. Lamb is all that's available.)

The worst - and I realize this may not really count as "cuisine" of any sort - was when I ate two Wimpy burgers and left my hotel room covered in vomit later that night.

Most other meals were decent enough; not as bad as some folks would have you believe, but certainly nothing spectacular in most instances. I did have a good duck l'orange once or twice, in a hotel dining room (The Hotel Inverness Court, which may or may not exist these days.)

Brighton Pensioner said...

Thanks, Buck. And Suldog, mutton is not easy to find. My farmer cousin sometimes has it - but that's a 350 mile round trip!