Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Fish and Chips

As you might appreciate, if you are a regular reader of this blog, I like my food. Food, culinary art, cuisine etc themselves fascinate me. I am not a glutton, rather I like small quantities with exquisite taste. Having travelled a fair bit, I have learned to enjoy the cuisines of different cultures. Every culture has something to enjoy.

My first exposure to the cuisines of other cultures was through takeaways and restaurants opened by ethnic minority populations in the UK - when I grew up, principally Chinese, Indian and Pakistani. Increasingly, the range and size of ethnicities in the UK increases.

One of my first stops when I get back, quite probably on my first day, will be the local Pakistani takeaway just 30 seconds from the house, which along with its sister restaurant down the road have the reputation as being the best Pakistani eating-places in town. The owner of both, Mr Raj, is a grand character with a totally shaved head who prefers working in the small takeaway than the larger, more opulent restaurant. He very soon got to remember me and, in spite of my very intermittent visits, I can phone on my first night and say,

"Good evening Mr Raj, Mr Gascoigne here ..."

"Good evening Mr Gascoigne. What can I do you for?"

"Two Lamb Baltis with a nan".

... and sometimes some sundries (bhaji, poppadoms, mango chutney etc).

"How long will that be ?"

"Give me 15 minutes".


Addressing each other as Mister, amuses me somewhat as we are more or less contemporaries and he is otherwise blunt, straightforward, efficient. The only person I seem to address by other than first name is Jaime's headteacher.

Over my many years of absence from the UK, I have become more appreciative of what are viewed as traditional UK dishes - Black Pudding, Meat Pie and Mushy Peas (with gravy), Steak and Kidney Pudding, Fish and Chips, UK cheeses (Cheshire, Lancashire, Stilton, Cheddar etc etc ... aaahh swoon!) and in this festive season Chritsmas Pudding ! (Generally, I do not have a sweetooth). Additionally, world foodstuffs unavailable here ... European cheeses, wines from Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Chile ...

Nanda isn't particularly appreciative of British or Pakistani food - but has developed a like to a Balti and loves this traditional British dish (from a Chinese takeaway up the road !).

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