Monday, 30 July 2007

Summer's here, it's time for mayonnaise!

So I think summer has definitely come in some form or another; I was actually able to leave home this morning without an umbrella for the first time since April, although this is really because I forgot it, but I'd never let that stand in the way of a good story.

Walked down to the gym on the Broadway this morning in what is fast becoming a normal routine. I have yet to see any really hot boys there - regular readers who can think back to 2002 will remember a really exceptionally cute Japanese boy - in lycra shorts if I remember properly - at the Sussex uni gym who I was infatuated with for, gosh, a whole two weeks or so. Anyway, this gym is a shade cheaper than the local Virgin Active, but is filled mainly with Indian boys exercising in baggy gangsta clothes, which I don't get - surely they would get caught in the treadmills.

The instructor who inducted me on Saturday is called Ali and was kind of hot, although I suspect he is a Good Muslim Boy (TM).

Then into London for a business lunch with a security software firm at Bertorelli's, which is an apparently 'legendary' Italian joint on Charlotte Street. The food was good but nothing special, although I asked for my tuna steak medium and it was decidedly medium-rare, which was in fact just how I wanted it, so full credit to their chef. The starter, if you're taking notes, was a prosciutto, fig and rocket salad. I've never really had figs before and it was a good combination. Meanwhile, the - Spanish - waiter was flirting outrageously with all the Ladies Who Lunch, and insisted on shaking us all by the hand as we left. He would have been cute if he'd bothered to shave. The PR who I know of old has got rid of the funky hair he had last year and gone for a run-of-the-mill crew cut. Anyway, we had a good chat about IT and People We Know Who Have Been Flooded. And someone who wasn't me picked up the bill, which I find is always the best way to do lunch.

Then, as it was sunny, I walked back along Oxford Street to get the tube from Bond Street and admired the skinny jean clad boys flitting between Topman and H&M. I poked the sale at Zara but all the good stuff had gone and I'm on a mission to not spend any money for a little while so that I can afford a Macbook in September.

Four people from language schools attempted to give me cards telling me to come and learn English.

Next door's garden is filled with flowers again. She has a beautiful pink rosebush and lots of bright things in pots that I think may be some kind of pansy, and what looks suspiciously like an orange tree. There's one of those little loveseats as well, which is rather sad as her husband died quite recently. The lady downstairs has a nice garden too, it has a trellis thing and a wheelbarrow that always has a spade in it; I suspect this is largely for effect. The neighbours on the other side neglect their garden, although it does have an enormous washing line to accomodate the lady of the house's giant burqas.

Friday, 27 July 2007

Gastronomic oddity

Gastronomes across the land have taken heart this week, following the publication of a survey revealing that the French - of all people - have voted the British the most adventurous eaters. Which I think we can all agree is a fine and richly deserved nod from our Gallic cousins.

The eagle-eyed will spot some flaws in this logic of course.

The first being that French cuisine, beyond the ubiquitous snails and frogs' legs - both of which I've had and both of which are, in all honesty fairly non-descript dishes - is hardly the most exotic in the world. When you can buy bags of crickets as street food in southeast Asia, and British film crews visiting China pop along to film and chortle at the restaurants that serve all penis, all the time, a bourguignon of this and a coulis of that seems, well, rather tame in comparison. Anybody brought up in a western culture can't be defined as having exotic and adventurous tastes by dint of having eaten something French. The concept of adventurous in this context is completely flawed.

Secondly, the Brits who holiday in France are precisely the sort who are going to want to try out the food. Don't let this survey fool you into thinking we don't have lumpen proles who eat nothing but chips. We just don't send them to France; they don't like the fancy foreign food so they go to Spain instead where they can get egg and chips and turn the colour of broiled lobster in a matter of fifteen minutes. Ergo, the survey is clearly biased in favour of the middle classes.

And it is the middle classes who we all knew were driving this - not unwelcome - fad for decent food in this country anyway. Everybody else is stuffing themselves on frozen pizzas and ready meals.

So really, nobody has learned anything.

But the Brits can feel a bit smug that the French have made a concession in their favour. And maybe that's the point.

In other travel news, nouveau-middle class Russians are edging out the Germans at several resorts in Turkey. And the Turks are all for it; it turns out that the Russians, having lived a goodly proportion of their lives under a barbarically stupid economic system, have very low expectations when it comes to what counts as good service. So bingo, the Turkish resorts can keep offering crap service, the Russians are content as long as there's sunshine and plentiful vodka, and as for the more discerning German tourists. It seems they can find another place to lay their towels. Everyone's a winner. Except the Germans.