“I was buying some Wheetabix, the best breakfast cereal there is. The Queen eats it, of course I have to eat it. It has the Queen’s seal of approval on it!”
All these quotes come from one source; a former British boss of mine who first gave warm-and-fuzzy thoughts about that island across the channel. Add another excellent Brit-import boss, two years working with University of Nottingham, a couple sun-filled London vacations, and a year in a “latin europe,” and you get an odd result. Despite my accent and upbringing, I felt like I had just come home from the moment I stepped off the train in London last Wednesday afternoon.
It had been six months since I’d set foot in an English-speaking country and I was amazed at how EASY it is to get along if you are 100 percent fluent in the native language. I experienced a burst of confidence so enormous that I Beyonce-strutted all over town. There were bagels! There were thrift shops! There were questionable “Mexican” food stands! My relationship with France is like a passionate, mercurial, love affair, but I haven’t found a city here that echoes my relationship with England.
A comfortable, three-years-in, sweatpants-and-popcorn Fridays kind of relationship. A relationship Liz Lemon would kill for.
So, no, mom, I didn’t do anything in London. I went to charity stores, I walked around aimlessly, I took pictures of flowers blooming in St. James’ Park and behind churches, and I ate all the Indian, Chinese and spicy food I could get my hands on. But it was nice to have a reminder that life can sometimes be easier without the automatic burden of language barriers and career uncertainty. And just when you were thinking I have given up on France, I’ll tell you how I refused to eat dessert after Thursday dinner, but then couldn’t refuse a cheese tasting.
A Leicestershire cheese which I can’t identify, creamy and tasty with a wasteful rind. Cheddar from Sussex; similar to good American cheddar (a.k.a. not orange and sold in Safeway) but more crumbly and with a great, sharp bite. And the crowning glory, Stilton from Nottinghamshire. Wow! I couldn’t finish all of it, but it was so smooth, and so potent. Even my “cheese stomach” was obliterated. Fromage Friday lives, even in the United Kingdom.