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Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Myth of the Octopus

On my recent trip to London, I remembered everything I like about it, but also things that led to me leaving.
What obviously most strikes me is that it is such a cosmopolitan city, you can almost visit a corner of the world on each corner (I know that is a bit of a cliché) and the mass of humans. I also like the raw energy that London brings, it is unpolished and somehow people seem to survive on the basis of creativity.

One of my favourite things to do is my usual visit to Edgware Road, it is recommended that you enter the area via Marylebone, a very classy area, the houses are nice, with some small streets where you can get lost. In some way there is nothing on Edgware Road, it is ugly, but urban. We almost always stop by to have some Middle Eastern cakes in a shop on Bell street and Oh my goodness how good they are. I more than strongly recommend the pistachio covered dates ( I am still having the water taste in my mouth), while discussions are rife (Anglo-Saxon type), then we troddle down Edgware Road, trying to see as much as possible, even enjoying the moment of being stuck under neath the bridge, the highway, the urban crosspoint packed with as much concrete as possible. Finally we settle down at one of the coffee places, ordering a strong arabic coffee and a cake, the discussions continue on this point (I think this time it was based on Hampstead and the Old England, and my fascination of humans being English and at the same time my problematic nature in that country, where my directness gets me in all kinds of problems. On the stroll towards Marble Arch we came by this Syrian shop where we bought an ice cream and thank my mother it was just one. It was shaped in a tube and it was cut and then squeezed down with the shop keepers hand (yes, he wore gloves), it was kind of a chewy texture, pistachio flavoured and yes I am obsessed with pistachios, not very sweet and kind of a surprising flavour. I will be back for more.

On the way back to Highgate, where we were going for this Greek restaurant, which we have wanted to visit for some time, we came across a strange thing. McDonald's, it was a designer version of a McDonald's, green, with fancy lights and all neat and tidy, a Habitat version of a McDonald's. They are perhaps going upmarket.

The Greek Restaurant, is called Ta Dalina and we came across it on a stroll through Highgate/Hampstead last summer. Outside was an old man smoking, and his peacefulness was something that captured my attention, we stopped and looked inside and all I remember was the dried thyme hanging from the ceiling and this huge octopus in the fridge. We almost cancelled all our meetings that night, so obsessed we became. The visit did not occur that time, but since then I have savoured the business card with the greatest care. The octopus was a memory that has travelled all the way to Berlin and one of my true good friends Lisa was in London that weekend too. The rumours of this giant octopus got her curious and it was almost a moment which made everyone tense, as it was impossible to know if Ta Dalina was going to live up to our words. We saw the old man again, who was the cook, the octopus had been made into a giant one, while it was actually just a proportion of a giant one. I kept it silently within me, but I was worried the myth was going to evolve into a nightmare. Everything we had was so nice, so good, so tasty, the lamb was absolutely delicious, the proportions were far more than generous and yes the octopus was amazing. The lady of the smoking man, charmed each one of us and we even ended up loving both of them. It even ended in a very familiar atmosphere, where we were the last customers and the man lit up his last cigarette in the restaurant (as the non smoking law was hitting in the next day).

The day only started at 4 pm, but the intense moments can be the most memorable ones.

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Blogger Jordi Vendetta said...

"What obviously most strikes me is that it is such a cosmopolitan city, you can almost visit a corner of the world on each corner and the mass of humans."

that's what fascinated me most too..during the 3 weeks I did a summer course there, my spanish improved a lot, as the city was full of people from zaragoza, madrid, barcelona, tenerrifa etc.
I sort of really miss London. It's not really nice, but it has its own charm and you never get bored there.

I loved it how Reyes claimed that London was too boring to him and everything closed at 6...cabron!!

9:57 AM  
Blogger Yrsa Roca Fannberg said...

@ Jordi,
where are you know.
So your Spanish improved more than your English.
My Spanish improved a lot there, more thanks to South Americans, who were a colony, especially at Curzon. London is great, I loved it deeply for my first 4 years.

The story with Reyes is funny.

10:20 AM  
Blogger Jordi Vendetta said...

I'm back to Vienna, where I have spent most of my life.

11:35 AM  

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