I speak English….I grew up speaking English. Yes, born and bred in Nigeria but we always spoke English at home.
Long story? No not really. Both parents spoke different languages so the whole family communicated in English!
Monopoly….my childhood was spent trying to acquire property in Mayfair and Park Lane….and of course Bond street. Amazing just how much my knowledge of popular London street names was shaped by the long, hard hours my sisters and I spent sweating it out, trying to avoid going to jail and paying tax!
It was there I first came across ‘Marylebone’ station. At this juncture, I feel the need to repeat that English is my 1st language. Now the phonetics of Marylebone is fascinating for it doesn’t follow your traditional syllabic pronounciation.
Lesson #1: English is not always phonetic, especially by Monopoly
If like me, you see it and pronounce it as a 3 syllable word – Mary-le-bone…..you’ll be wrong as I learnt 20+ years later. 2 decades of saying in my head Mary-le-bone, only to learn that I was wrong and it is pronounced, rather poshly…Marl-e-bone! I just love the way it sounds. Don’t you?
I am comforted by the fact that many people have also made the same mistake :-), aah there is peace in numbers.
I am also that a stroll along a street by the said name brought so much joy and happiness to the FBC crowd….on a rainy sunday.
Lesson #2: Know the season, and dress accordingly
That morning as I set out to meet the guys at Baker Street, I decided my black flats looked prettier than my boots. I feel as though I must explain my Nigerian heritage, where wearing boots is bound to make you the laughing stock for we don’t have have the weather for it. Saying that, sometimes I do find it difficult to dress weather-appropriately. I’m not used to wearing socks of any kind, except sleeping warmers and I wear pink and peach clothes in February, to the shock of many a person on the street!
Anyhow, my feet froze on sunday…for the first bit, till we sat down in the restaurant. They also got wet and looked ridiculous – a stark reminder that boots in winter rule!
We walked the short distance from Baker street to the market in Marylebone village. Stopping of course every other minute to take photos.
Now I love my camera and recently picked up a fantastic tip for taking photos in the rain from A Guide to Photography by John Garrett (DK KISS series)! It may look silly but I’ll let you know it not only works but is bound to elicit comments from friends, colleagues and passer-bys….strange looks at the very least.
I always keep two plastic bags and some rubber bands in my camera bag. Then if it rains, I cut a lens-diameter hole in the clsed end of the bag and fasten it around the lens with the rubberband, This enables me to look through the opening of the bag, keeping the camera dry.
And that’s exactly what I did….with a Tesco paper bag (Photo courtsey of Sunita).
The lady at the Fish stall (story below) said, after the intial shock had passed, ‘I’ve seen Tesco bags used for many things, but never to protect a camera.’ Since it worked, I will continue to do it….regardless of how silly I look 🙂
And of course bread…..for no market is complete without its share of yeasty goods, except maybe a fabric market…or an electronic one :-)!
Lesson#4: Fish in a jug
I was intrigued to find out that sprats are sold by the jug….and not by weight! As were the herrings. That did remind me very much of Nigeria, where fish are sold in bowls and not measured on any scales. A bit comforting:-).
I did come across an oyster stall but I figured no need to venture that far, since the oyster fix this lifetime’s been had!
It was nice to wander round and see cooking inspiration from around the globe. From French inspired roasts;
Of course, there was loads more….but this was what I saw.
After the market, on our hunt for food, we stopped by La Fromagerie. Loads of cheeses and other specialities….
Starving and needing a place that could accomodate a dozen or so bloggers. After a few ‘nos’, we finally found a yes….and at a lovely resturant too – The Natural Kitchen.
I guess to be honest, we could all relax a bit….and get to spend some ‘quiet’ time with our blogging compatriots…after FBC ’09!
While the food came, everyone chatted…..laughing and taking photos by the second. I got some of Mowie….in quick succession;
Orders were placed….and food started to arrive. First came the starters….and featured here – sweet potato soup. I remember Sarka saying it was nice and I wondered if I had made a serious error in not ordering a starter. However, I was starving and really wanted to wait on the main.
Then they started to arrive. First was Sarah’s fishpie with green beans;
First of all, it looked appetising….fresh, green speckles of basil, lusciously coating plump rice grains, peppered with chunks of chicken, red paprika and yellow paprika, finished off with shavings of Parmesan well perched atop the ridge of rice. Did I mention the drizzle of olive oil?
The aroma that hit my nose, took me back to Rome in spring! Warm and inviting. And then the first bite – melt-on-the-tongue creamy rice, with the texture just as I like it best. Not too soft that it was rice puree but such that I could feel the individual grains but it didn’t take long to get them to smooth and silky. And then finished.
The total experience – wow. (Thanks Jamie, I hope you can see that I’m trying to use all my senses to describe what I ate….and it is NO easy feat. It is amazing though that when you start thinking of it along these lines, you build up a catalogue of descriptions and analogies….Wow). So therefore Lesson #5 should be practice what you learn!
It was time to leave, I had a plane to catch and so I befre I headed off, I descended into the basement that houses the bathroom. As I neared the bottom of the stairs, I was inclined to head back up and get my camera, a post from David Lebovitz fresh in my head. In it, he describes how he sees the recipe for Gâteau Zoë, a chocolate cake on the walls of a men’s facility at a restaurant in Paris and has to make an extra trip to get the recipe, but I figure that the chances of that happening to me are slim and so I continue the journey.
The first thing to hit me the minute I open the door to the facilities is a board of ‘Did you know?’. In shock, and disbelief, I run back upstairs to the amusement of the staff in the basement, which also houses some goods for sale. Explaining to them that I wear the food blogger badge of honour, I grab the camera and head back.
Sighs of relief and lesson learned. Lesson #6 – Don’t go to a restaurant facility…without your camera!Now while that wasn’t a recipe for killer shortbread, can you imagine living without this weetjes (Dutch for bits of knowledge)?
Since I came back, I’ve been preparing for Sinterklaas’s coming. Tonight he finally came and we celebrated it with some Dutch friends. An amazing experience. More on that in a couple.
Peace out, for its past my bedtime. Stay well.