Monday, June 30, 2014

45 Days in London: Day 7

Tower of London, Spring in a Small Town, Jamie Oliver

It's so interesting to see how much of our imagery of royalty, from Lewis Carroll to Disney and more, comes straight from the British Monarchy. The Tower of London is there to underscore that fact. From the yeoman warders to the crown jewels, we see the actual roots of our childhood fantasies take shape. (Doesn't the crowd of people at the base of the White Tower even remind you a little of Disneyland?)

So much history here: Henry VIII, Ann Boleyn, Mary Queen of Scots, Richard III and his tragic nephews), Robert Walpole, and Sir Walter Raleigh, to name just a few. Then of course there are the ravens, the Roman wall, and the world's largest, most opulent punch bowl!

Clearly the Tudors were in power here at some point inside the tower. Love the turquoise doors!
I came away in awe of the ancientness and vastness of the British Empire. And also with a chilling realization of how dangerous a monarchy can be if the wrong person gets into power, or misuses that power.

This afternoon we saw a screening of a 1942 Chinese film at the BFI, "Spring in a Small Town." Amazing themes of love and romance, loyalty and betrayal, and a fascinating look at mental illness.

After the matinee, we walked back to Covent Garden to indulge in something that had been tempting our palates for days now: Jamie Oliver's "Union Jacks" restaurant. Jamie has taken traditional English fare (you know, the boring food with the terrible reputation for being bland and overcooked?), and retooled it with the freshest artisanal ingredients and his trademark touch. The results? WOW. My compliments to the chef! We had traditional beer-battered fish and chips (cooked to perfection), with mushy peas (his were fresh, barely blanched, and minted just right). We started out ordering a single plate to share, with a small beetroot and goat cheese salad, but it was all so good (and we inhaled it so fast) we ordered another one right on its heels.  For the perfect ending, we each had just a scoop of his homemade ice cream...the best ice cream bargain in the city, and utterly delectable.

P.S. Jamie Oliver is HUGE here! We have a Jamie Oliver cookbook in our flat.

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