Friday, July 11, 2003

Fine things about south London

Yesterday, I went out to lunch with another blogger (as one does, unless one comes from Adelaide). As he is a north London chap, I suggested going to Tooting in south London, which is a very diverse neighbourhood. Some areas tend to be enclaves of particular ethnic groups, but for some reason south of the Thames is less like this than north of the river. South of the river you tend to get whites, Carribean blacks, African blacks, Indians, and Pakistanis all mixed together. Just north of Croydon, where I live, is more black than Asian, but Tooting is the other way round. The area is full of Indian supermarkets, places selling DVDs and VHS tapes of Bollywood movies, shops selling discount household good, little hole in the wall shops run by Indian gentlemen who will fix your mobile phone for you, and lots of places to obtain various interesting types of food.

We ended up in a Pakistani restaurant named Lahore Karahi. Not a particularly fancy or expensive place, but a restaurant where local and other people regularly go to get a curry, often to take away. While there are clearly regional culinary variations in the Indian subcontinent, there clearly isn't a dramatic culinary change as you cross the border, so it is hard to say what makes this a "Pakistani" restaurant rather than an Indian one. However, the food was superb. Absolutely first rate. I had a mutton starter and a prawn curry with rice as a main. Both were just delicious. People who have not lived in Britain do not always appreciate the extent to which British people love their curries, and subcontinental food in Britain is usually of high quality. But this was something special. This is the advantage of going to cosmipolitan neighbourhoods.

One thing on the menu was the name of a dish I had never heard of, followed by "Sunday breakfast only". I am almost tempted to go back at breakfast time on Sunday to find out precisely what it is that Pakistanis eat for breakfast on Sundays, and find that the words on the menu in fact mean "large plate of bacon and eggs" in Urdu.

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