When I was young I always intended to go and live overseas. A prospective expat from way back, I had all sorts of plans that I never quite got around to.
After seeing the film ‘The Spanish Apartment’ I was absolutely going to do an exchange year in Barcelona and have adventures with a kooky group of people from all around Europe. Sadly, my university didn’t have any deals with Spanish universities.
I started looking at other countries. UK, US, France, Japan: everywhere sounded great, but I never quite got around to doing the paperwork.
The years ticked by and I continued not getting around to it. I spent six years in Canberra, plodding through the public service, and wasting my youth.
Waste might seem like a strong word, of course. I’ve generally enjoyed myself, even in Canberra. But your youth should be for adventure!
But thankfully, I’m still young, at least according to the government of the United Kingdom. So with my Youth Mobility Visa in hand I am off to do my kind of adventuring.
The kind with food.
“But why England?” you might ask. “Surely a gastronomic adventure would fit better in Paris, or Barcelona, or the many ramen stores of Tokyo?” And it’s a fair question.
I could be cynical and say that it comes entirely down to better visa conditions, but in reality that is only part of the story. While the UK has, over the years, had a pretty poor reputation in the kitchen, things have changed more recently. Even when French President Jacques Chirac claimed in 2005 that British cuisine was second only to Finnish in its awfulness, London was already becoming one of the world’s great food cities.
The last 15 years has seen the UK become a centre of gastronomic innovation (thank you Heston). It has had a resurgence of classic British food, particularly solidifying its position as one of the foremost cookers of meat (thank you Fergus). On top of all that, as one of the most multicultural cities in the world, London has become a place where you can find great food from around the world. From French to Vietnamese to Colombian to Israeli, there are options somewhere in this city.
At least, this is what I am told, and over the coming two years I’ll be finding out for myself.
I intend to dive headlong into what this country has to offer. While mostly this will mean the food of London, I will also get out to the rolling green hills, head over to Scotland, Wales and Ireland, and try some of the other cities (particularly excited about Birmingham, if I’m being honest). I’m going to experience the clichés and the reality, the old and the new, the cheap and (when I get a job) the fancy.
Not that I will ignore the continent. With so much only a brief plane ride away, short trips to Europe are also on the agenda. From Aalborg to Zurich, I’m going eat the best.
And I am going to share all of it with you.