The London Prelude

It’s been bitter, bitter cold in London; for the past few days staying here (on a long “layover”), I’ve lived mostly from café to café to museum to bad döner shop. Perhaps it’s the Europeans on holiday, or the diverse neighborhood I’m staying in, but I’ve heard French twice as often as English, and more of every other language (Arabic, Chinese, Vietnemese, Igbo, some Turkish…) than those two combined.

There is a pair of döner shops up the road from my hostel, near the Underground; after going to both on consecutive nights and ordering lamp kebap, I was served a plate with something that hardly qualified as Turkish, only Britainized. It was thus that last night, stopping in a café across the street for a quick espresso–after the waitress invited me to sit down–I was tempted into ordering a plate of hummus as well which, true to Turkish custom, multiplied on delivery: a small appetizer had become a full meal with cacık (yoghurt soup) and ezme (spicy tomato and herb salad)! While I had mistaken one of the waitresses for Turkish herself, she turned out to be Romanian, and the other French.

It’s all a bit jarring, really; while I’m admittedly not up on my British politics, I can’t help but think they outdo us as a melting pot. Alas, this is not for long my cultural puzzle to explore–tomorrow this time I’ll be back at the airport, waiting to go to Istanbul…

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