I hadn’t seen Sean in almost a year and the first thing I say when I see him in London is, “What are we eating?”

It was only logical for me to start my first meal in London with a classic English fry-up. I saw them everywhere, from the dingy corner dives to posh, trendy eateries. It must be the national dish or the collective comfort food of an entire country.

There are aspects in life where surprises can’t be tolerated. The full breakfast is probably one of them. One can always expect a traditional fry-up with two eggs, sausage, bacon, fried tomatoes, fried mushrooms, beans and toast with a big cup of builder’s tea.

I was also hanging out with Steph, a friend from high school, who I probably see more often since I’ve lived in Europe than when we were both in California. We both have similar feelings about growing up in the San Gabriel Valley, which is probably why we’re both now living on a different continent.

We also share similar feelings about food — we both like to graze. Public markets are the right place to do exactly that. Borough Market in the South Bank is probably one of the best known in London as it’s a haven of artisanal goodies: hand-pressed tortillas, homemade sausages, chutneys and traditional English fare.

I stuck mostly with the classics that day, so I had to have the obligatory fish and chips. It’s one of those things where I can imagine myself eating it everyday while I’m in England until I have it that one time. Then I remember that while eating a complete meal of fried foods everyday is good in theory, it’s just not something my body can handle.

We also had an ostrich sausage as the wild boar sausage was sold out:

I don’t think we did so bad on the first visit, especially since a lot of the shops at Borough Market were closed that day. We came back on a Friday, which is one of the main market days.

We started both mornings with some really great coffee from Monmouth, where they do the single brew, pour over method. A good cup of coffee made of freshly roasted beans is something that isn’t part of the culture in Paris which boggles the mind. So I was feeling especially fortunate to have a week of good coffee in London. Apparently coffee has taken off in this tea-drinking town in the last five years. Thank the Australian and American expats for that.

After I had a meatpie from Pieminister at a music festival last year, I had meatpie on my to eat list. This here is the chicken tarragon:

Whenever I talk about meatpies, which is not a topic I bring up often, but when I do, my mom gets really excited and recalls one of her childhood memories of walking by a meatpie shop in Liverpool and smelling what she describes as the most heavenly smell ever. It’s funny how the memory of smell can live with us for as long as they do. Do they ever change, like images we have of particular moments in our lives? Or perhaps that’s why things never taste as good as we remember it.

My mom’s memory of meatpies is so strong that I wanted to, like, relive that moment for her or something. I’m just sentimental that way when it comes to food. These were behind a glass case from another stand, however, so there weren’t smells emanating from this stand to tempt us anymore. The puff pastry of the sausage rolls distracted us, so that’s what we got instead of meatpie #2.

Then we had bratwurst:


Followed by a chicken burger from this poultry shop stand:

That’s quite a lot of food for two people, especially one who is stick thin (that would be Steph). But we weren’t even stuffed, but we nevertheless took an eating break by visiting the Tate Modern, which isn’t too far from Borough Market.

That’s Sean in the room with Cy Twombly’s Bacchus series. I absolutely love this museum. I first visited it sometime in college when I was still flirting with the idea of getting an art history degree. This place transformed the way I saw and thought about contemporary art, that contemporary art is more part of our vernacular than we give it credit. Because of the Tate Modern and its thoughtful programming,  I’m not so intimidated by modern art anymore and it feels a lot less chaotic when I look at this kind of work. If that just sounded like a PSA, what the hell, this place is amazing.

Then at some point we stopped by at the Swan, which is a stylish looking restaurant next to the Globe theater. I loved the ceiling. Steph said this is the thing to drink in the summer: lemonade with orange juice. It’s so much more refreshing than an Arnold Palmer!

After the museum we had a secret eating outing. It’s not the same as guilty binging, but Steph figured that it’s just best to keep it to yourself because people are usually horrified/disgusted that you’ve indulged in yet another full meal two hours later. I’m keeping pictures of it off this post, but I’ll just say that what we ate was worth any judgment. And after we had our secret eating session, about an hour later, we merrily met up with other friends for beer, gyoza and ramen.

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