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October 2006

Borough Market, London

Borough Market, London
Originally uploaded by TwoCrabs.

The awesomest, coolest, neatest, hippest, tastiest market in London: Borough Market. Located just south of London Bridge on the banks of the Thames River, Borough Market is a foodies paradise where you can find everything from fresh fruit and veg to Ostrich burgers and Sierra Nevada beer. Next week, Borough Market celebrates its 250th anniversary! The market operates 7 days a week, but it is only open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays. The rest of the week it's strictly a wholesale market where vendors from across London buy their foodstuff from farmers. It's a favorite of gourmet chefs like Gordon Ramsey and Jamie Oliver and regular wannabe chefs like yours truly. It's also about the only place in England where you can find fresh Mexican chilis and tortillas to make authentic meals like chocolate mole poblano and tamales. The only downside for us locals is that the market has become a major tourist attraction, and it's now nearly impossible to run there quickly for everyday ingredients. It's so busy and packed with crowds that going to Borough Market is a half-day event. But it's the absolute freshest and best selection of organic food anywhere in England!

George W. Bush: 1946 - Tonight!?

265083418_6145a3c4fd_b_1 Talk about attention-grabbing headlines!

This PARODY front-page article about an imagined assassination of U.S. President George W. Bush appeared in today's "The London Paper" -- a freebie newspaper distributed on London streets and the Tube.  The publicity stunt was actually an advertisement for the controversial documentary, "Death of a President."  The movie will be released in US theaters later this month, but it's airing tonight on Britain's "More4" television network.

The inside article begins under the headline "The Assassination." The lede paragraph reads: "George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States of America has died from gunshot wounds at the age of 61. Surgeous battled to save the President's life for several hours but were finally forced to declare his death to a stunned nation."

The U.S. Secret Service must be having a field day over this flick.

I wonder what this newspaper will fetch me on eBay!?

Lovers Leap

Saturday was an absolutely scrumptious day in southern England, and the Two Crabs took advantage of the weather to take a day hiking trip to Beachy Head, the tallest chalk cliff in England at 500-some feet high.  In addition to being one of the most beautiful places in Britain, Beachy Head has the dubious distinction of being the third-most popular place in the WORLD to committ suicide.

More than 20 people a year hurl themselves to their death off the cliff here, located 2 miles west and above the beach resort town of Eastbourne. Peering down from the top, one can also view the charred, crumpled remains of various cars below that were driven off the cliff, most ending up on the rocky outcrops just short of landing in the English Channel. It's such a popular suicide spot that a book was written about the subject this year, "Cliffs of Dispair: A Journey To The Edge" by Tom Hunt.

The locals joke make light of their town's unfortunate notoriety. After our 10-mile roundtrip hike up and down the cliffs, we stopped for a pint at a little neighborhood pub on the outskirts of town. An older gentleman told us a tale of how a taxi driver had picked up a fare at the Eastbourne train station, who asked to be taken to Beachy Head park. No sooner than the taxi arrived that the man ran out of the cab and jumped off the cliff. The local joked: "The worst part was the man did not even have the decency to pay the cabbie before he killed himself!"

For more Beachy Head photos, click on the FLICKR icon at the top-right.

London BBQ: American Style

Photo_6_1 On Saturday, the Two Crabs hosted their first dinner party ever in London. More than 30 people representing a half-dozen countries turned out for our event: a proper American barbecue.  It was hilarious to see how excited folks were to taste a REAL hamburger cooked on a REAL charcoal grill. And these weren't frozen, hockey puck patties from Sainsbury's (UK's largest grocery store chain). We made real burgers from pure ground British beef, seasoned with parsley, oregano, salt, pepper and diced onions. YUM.  One of Pineapple Princess' friends screamed with joy at tasting a burger with chedder cheese slices, and even moreso at having her burger served to her on a paper plate!  And all served with a side of veggies and Liptons onion dip and SAM ADAMS beer. 

Before we moved to London, I had heard nightmare stories about how the British were not very hospital. A colleague of mine bemoaned abut the fact that she was NEVER invited into a British home during the entire three years she lived in London.

Now it's true that the British, although friendly, can sometimes be a tough nut to crack when it comes to anything personal.  For example, there are a group of gents who we often chat with over pints at our "local" (slang for one's favorite local pub).  We saw these guys once, sometimes two or three times a week. Yet during the first year of living in London, we never learned anything exceptionally personal about these guys. It's amazing how British can chat in pubs for hours without revealing anything personal. The conversation usually is steered towards safe territory such as the weather, sports, London life, world events, how much they hate President George W. Bush, etc. It wasn't until our 13th month in London that these folks finally started to really open up about their personal life and discuss their family, partners, careers, past indiscretions, etc.!   It's almost as if people did not really want to get personal until they knew you were going to be here longer than just a few weeks or months. Once we made a committment to stay in England, folks started to REALLY warm up to us "Colonials."

Now, we're friends with our neighbors in the flat above us. We know the names of all the shopkeepers and bartenders at our favorite estabishments, and they know us. Even the butcher knows me by name!  The "toilet paper man," so called because he runs a toiletry stall at the outdoor Chapel Market in Islington, knows us well from our frequent trips to the Kings Head pub. It's taken a long time to reach this point. But I finally feel at home here in Angel, and London as a whole.

Last night we went to the Globe Theatre on the South Bank to watch William Shakespeare's "A Comedy of Errors." BEST Shakespare we've ever seen, even though we had to stand for the entire performance in the brisk autumn evening, just like the original Globe. After the show we walked hand-in-hand along the cobblestone alleyways on the South Bank towards London Bridge, and as I looked out across the Thames River to St. Paul's Cathedral, it suddenly dawned on me: "Holy crap, we live in FRACKIN' LONDON!"

14 Months and counting...

Above photo: Fun with Macbook Photobooth