Kage Baker was a picky eater. God, was she! I have had better luck with intransigent toddlers than with my sister in her 50’s.
However, she loved most Fair food, and the goodies at Dickens were probably her favourite. For one thing, most of it was decently served in bowls and on plates, with spoons and forks and napkins – and as fond as we all were of beef ribs with fire repellent, or warm ale with straw in it, a clean bowl of raspberry trifle with custard sauce goes down awfully nicely …
One can get a proper High tea at Dickens, at Cuthbert’s Tea House; make a reservation, since it is the probably the most popular place to sit down and eat, and enjoy really good tea and scones baked right on the premises.
Elsewhere at Dickens, there are plates of bangers and mash (sausage and potatoes, for you culturally-deprived Americans), which are an ultimate comfort food. There are steak pasties (those are meat pies). There are fish and chips, calamari and chips (I shudder to imagine how they have worked this out with the captive squid down the lane), fried oysters … I know no better Sunday restorative than an order of fried oysters with a Black Moon: which is Guiness and champagne. Kage and I got through the cold wet winters at the Fox Theatre on those.
There are several kinds of traditional meat pies – steak, chicken, and sausage pies; Shepherd and Cottage pies, and Cornish pasties. All are divine, even if you eat them – as one of my young men insists on doing – smothered in tomato catsup … there are several varieties of sausages inna bun. There is Greek food hot and cold. There is hot soup (or cold, if you hang about the breezeway). There are roasted chestnuts, fresh popcorn, Maclaran’s divine cookies and cold milk. There is the best coffee and chai in the world at Mr. Brown’s.
There is chocolate, and more chocolate, and still more chocolate. There are candied nuts, candied fruits, candy canes. There is probably even someone with a few fresh oranges and apples somewhere …
In the Green Man, we have nothing for sale (being, despite the amazing amount of eating and drinking going on in my Parlour, a stage). But do we eat? Oh my yes. I feed my staff, through the angelic grace and talents of The Cooking Ladies, who are probably the most important part of the Parlour. Every day they feed us all: roast beef, devilled eggs, Scotch eggs (and if you don’t know what those are, God save you for an ignorant saisen), ham, turkey; sarnies of chicken salad, cucumbers and prawn spread; 3 kinds of mustard, 2 kinds of pickles, olives and carrots; fresh rolls; 3 kinds of cheese, Italian sausage and whatever else occurs to someone over the week.
And then we serve sweets: gingerbread cake, rum cake, fancy biscuits. Home-made lemon curd and rum sauce. Fudge, Turkish delight and peppermints. Marzipan. Truffles. Jelly beans …
Watching us eat is probably in violation of the Geneva Convention for the poor customers. But if it gets too much to bear, there is all the other stuff I have outlined above – which is very nearly as good. Go forth and you can find a lunch almost as fine as ours.
Except for Kelly’s Scotch eggs. And Liz’s lemon curd. And Mike’s rum cake. And DJ’s truffles … nothing on this living earth compares with any of those.
Tomorrow: Back to London! Your correspondent on the road!