I was reading Simon Kruper’s column in the FT “What makes London different?“. I had been mulling over the same question. On a daily basis, I am confronted by an uncanny openness of different cultures. An Indian Tesco’s employee showing two Hasidic jews around the stationery shelf, around the corner a Halal fridge, two shelves away from that row upon row of ethnic foods. Unlike mainland Europe, you don’t have to erase your origin or culture to live in London. Rather, everyone get’s to be who they are and somehow live together more or less peacefully (136 murders a year in London as opposed to 536 in New York – researched by Simon Kruper).It’s not only in supermarkets that things are peaceful. Traffic is refreshingly non-aggressive. If you see someone indicating that they want to drive in front of you, you don’t accelerate, (inconceivable, isn’t it?) instead you slow down. They in turn, flash their hazard lights in thanks or raise a hand. And you know what? Everyone still manages to get where they want to get to without getting their panties in a bunch or abusing their car horn.I think all this amicable cohabitation of cultures contributes to the vibrant food scene. Without unmasked prejudice floating about, people are curious to try new things while others are encouraged to share what they know.I got myself to Broadway market. Where I had 3 destinations; Banhmi11, Lucky Chip and Yum Bun.After all the accolades, Banhmi11 fell well short of my expectations. This is one instance where I can confidently say you can get better in Berlin at CôCô.
Yum Bun was indeed yummy. And I say this having had the steamed pork buns at momofuku ssäm bar a couple of times. The apparent ease with which the slim girl behind the stack of bamboo steamers made up the buns inspired me give steamed buns and their filling of pork belly a go when I return to Berlin.
By the time we made it back to Lucky Chip, I couldn’t face a burger. But I was tempted. They looked sensational. A popsicle on the other hand, from Icy Freshpops. I definitely had room for that! American magazines and websites have been going on about them forever, early adopters that they are, and this was the first incarnation I have seen on this side of the ocean. Growing up in Athens, every car ride home from the beach was accompanied by a Calippo ice lolly. The sugar counteracted all the salt water I had swallowed and the ice (in days before our car had air conditioning and before Athens had highways) was just the thing to combat the still heat of the slow-moving car. It was pretty damn near perfect – oh and did I mention all this was accompanied by a chorus of cicadas? Icy Freshpops have no relation to a Calippo. They don’t have that acidic kick of ascorbic acid or the obscene amount of sugar. They are refreshing, in the same way the cucumber and mint are. Unrefined sugar, organic, using locally sourced fruit (and vegetables). Irreprehensible in every way. In other words, the perfect ‘treat’ after going overboard at the adjacent Lucky Chip.