Thursday, October 05, 2006

All is not lost

After getting to the hotel on Tuesday, but before crashing out at 7:30, I summoned my will to go out into the neighborhood at least a little. I was determined not to go to bed feeling like I was after discovering the sodden mess of my suitcase.

I went north on Goucester Place (where my hotel is). I had read that a lot of businesses in London close pretty early, and as I wandered, I saw that this was already proving true at 6 or so. I found a place called Sara Cafe which was still open, and went in to see about some food.

It's a Middle-Eastern place, and it took me a moment to identify the predominant smell as the sweet, fruity tobacco used in hookahs. They have a little hookah bar downstairs, but I didn't go in.

Feeling more hungry than adventurous, I ordered a falafel. The guy asked me if I wanted ketchup on it. I've never heard of ketchup as a condiment for falafel, and didn't think it sounded good at all, so I asked for tahini instead, which I apparently mispronounced.

It was very fresh. A bit more sesame-tasting than I'm used to, but quite good. I sat and ate and glanced periodically at the tv, showing Al Jazeera. The sound was off, but the screen was filled with Mtv style flash cuts and Arabic writing. The only text in english the whole time I was there read ""

After I ate, I headed west down a side street towards some markets that were still open. The neighborhood seems to have a fair amount of diversity, and the English a wider palate than ours. In a very small space was all sorts of vegetables and prepared foods covering Middle Eastern, Indian and even some Slavic food of the sort I can find in Ukranian Village at home. The had great big bags of the wonderful, spongy flatbread whose name I can never recall, but which one finds in Ethiopian and some Indian restaurants. I bought some baklava and a chick-pea salad, since I didn't know if I'd be able to sleep, and I was a long way from morning.

But my mood was improved, and I looked forward to my first morning in London.

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