Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Rambling in London

Have spent a pleasant - if still snivelly - couple of days wandering familiar streets and revisiting what old haunts remain, like my beloved Food For Thought, whose quiche and salad plate has changed little in the 20 years I've been eating it - still a good deal and a good meal with no room for the unfailingly tempting desserts. You still queue up on a narrow staircase, take your earthenware plate to the nearest corner of the nearest unfailingly occupied table, grab yourself a glass and drink from the unfailingly replenished jugs of tap water, and sprinkle on a bit of salt and pepper from the bowls in front of you.

No mistaking mushroom season is here. I had a really nice wild mushroom soup the other day at a most unlikely place. The croutons were particularly good (I suspect nice bread that was given a good dredging in tasty olive oil helped them along)

and the bruschetta wasn't bad either.

Speaking of fungi, some of the more interesting mushrooms on sale at Mortimer's just now..

The Bath House, although part of the evil empire, (since 1996, the Greene King chain has bought up 2,200 pubs in Britain, taking its total to 2,587 pubs and restaurants across the country; it's notorious for buying up small breweries and closing them down, reducing the number of traditional beers on the market) has for the moment at least agreed to host Ambit's poetry readings (as long, goes the dark clause, as we spend enough money to make it worth their while)(Ambit could use a hand too, having become one of the latest casualties of cultural funding cuts - they only need 200 subscribers to break even).

I passed on any "home made coleslaw" or "British beef" they might have on offer in favour of a lotus seed bun from an old familiar Chinese bakery en route.

One of Tony Blair's London neighbours overstayed his welcome and is going nowhere fast.

A visit to the most lovely and useful of bookshops, Daunt's on Marylebone High Street.

I saw a most astonishingly fabulous film in a favourite old cinema in Notting Hill.

In other news, there was an update in the Guardian the other day about the debate over GM crops which makes interesting reading. Although how anyone can say they will solve world hunger is beyond me, when they are developed with corporate interests in mind: corporate profits for multinationals inevitably have pretty questionable benefits for everyone else, in the old 'someone has to win' equation. That is, such profit-oriented products (in this case, remember, this time it's food) are marketed in order to create an enduring economic bond with purchasers (farmers) by requiring the annual purchase of seed (an attempt to eliminate the rights of farmers to develop and save seed) and associated technologies (e.g. specialised pesticides and fertilisers) so that they can be grown in some cases (e.g. soya in Brazil) in eco-systems that cannot sustain them, with the profits going to multinationals while the local economy is driven ever lower.


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