It’s been 20 years since I’ve visited the UK. Nothing personal, it’s just been hard to find the time, what with being so busy and all on the weekends and schedules that never seem to meet up. I can tell you two possibly true things about English food then;
a) it was crap
b) the good stuff was very well hidden somewhere.
I’m happy to report that it’s now very, very good here. Starting with yummy calves’ liver at the local pub when I got here to the Borough Markets the next morning – I don’t know how people don’t spend every day here buying a pheasant or handmade cheese made from, insanely dangerous for Australians, raw milk. And if there’s not enough cheese there, there’s Neal’s Yard Dairy, which is stacked with lovingly made cheese all with tiny signs saying who made them and where and staff desperately keen to find the cheese that will bring you happiness. Then when you’ve done all that you can go and buy a par of jeans at the Paul Smith shop.
Tooling down to Brighton we stop in at Ridgeview Estate, where they’re cranking out multiple gong-winning sparkling white. Brighton itself, once you’ve checked out the beach and played mods v rockers, has more vegetarian restaurants than Australia has vegetarians.
In short, it’s been stunning so far but the important thing to realise is these things don’t happen by themselves. It’s communities organising themselves, people’s labour in creating excellent products and other people supporting them. To see this level of transformation is a fantastic lead in for the Slow Food Terra Madre conference, which is just a few sleeps and and a couple of train rides away.