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Bacon Sandwiches and Banksy

Exploring the Flavors of London on an East End Food Tour Story and photographs by Barbara Ramsay Orr

“S

orry. I think I ate your bacon sandwich.” The tiny Australian woman didn’t look particularly sorry. I had been delayed by a construction slowdown on the tube and missed the first stop on the Eating London’s East End Food Tour. I managed to catch up with the group at The English Restaurant on Brushfield Street, where they were tucking in to servings of warm bread and butter pudding. I think the Australian would have eaten my pudding too if I had arrived a minute later. Hanna Saks, leader of this culinary trek, welcomed me into the group and made introductions. There were seven of us in total, clustered around a long table in this quintessentially British restaurant. The building is a survivor from the 17th century and conjures images of Oliver Twist lurking in the corners. These were the perfect surroundings in which to enjoy England’s favorite desert. We licked our plates clean and then followed Hanna as she herded us out the door and along the East End foodie trail.

Poppies Fish And Chips, voted best in the UK.

Exploring East End London’s Food Culture This was nominally a food tour, but there was to be so much more. Food has always seemed to me to be the pathway to many different layers of a culture. In London’s East End, the food is a map that traces the floods of immigration, the vagaries of affluence and poverty, and the history that has played itself out on these narrow, still-cobblestoned streets. Art and

architecture are also interlaced with the culinary landscape. As Hannah told the story of the many waves of immigrants who have landed in the once universally disparaged East End, I thought of Brexit. The Brits who recently voted to leave the European Union did so, I believe, mostly out of fear of the impact of new immigration into Britain, and I wished they could all take this tour. It proves the value and richness that diversity brings to a city. The East End is a perfect case study in immigration. Because the area was a less attractive and, thus, less expensive part of the city, impoverished newcomers came to its crowded streets and made them home.

The French Invasion The first influx of immigration came from France, when close to 50,000 Protestants who had lost their civil rights as a result of Louis XIV’s revocation of the Edict of Nantes, fled to England. The Huguenots brought with them their skills at silk-weaving, silversmithing, and upholstery. They came seeking religious freedom and settled in the poorest part of the city, where they established businesses

East End street art

Profile for FWT Magazine

FWT Magazine: food wine travel - Issue 6, Winter 2016/17 - World Cuisine  

It gives us great pleasure to bring you another issue, this one themed “World Cuisine.” On this journey we skip around the planet, pausing h...

FWT Magazine: food wine travel - Issue 6, Winter 2016/17 - World Cuisine  

It gives us great pleasure to bring you another issue, this one themed “World Cuisine.” On this journey we skip around the planet, pausing h...

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