Day 43 of 80 — Curry

Around London in 80 days

In these uncertain times, I need a lifeline and a horizon so I have — somewhat arbitrarily I’ll admit — set a date. April 1st will be my horizon ; my lifeline will be the 80 days separating me from it.

And as I cannot go around the world right now, I give you A Mad Belgian’s “Around London in 80 Days” : eighty impressions of London, eighty stories, places, thoughts from my experience of this wonderfully mad and maddening city.

Day 43: Curry

Believe it or not, when a group of Brits are asked what the UK national dish is, they all respond in unison: “Chicken Tikka Masala”!” Fish & Chips come second, or even third after Bangers & Mash.

Indeed, curry is more than a simple dish: it’s a concept, an event, a sacred moment. Come rain or come shine, summer or winter, whether they’re celebrating something or need cheering up, the people of Britain turn to curry. As an outsider, it took me a few years to get to grips with this local tradition.

“Curry night” usually takes place on Friday, as an “end of the week” treat with friends or family. Anything goes: curry with naan AND rice! And of course, crispy popppadoms to keep busy while waiting for the main dish. It’s party time: we drink, we laugh, we talk through the night —or until the place closes, then we stagger back home.

And when people don’t really feel like going out it’s takeaway-style that they keep the tradition. They keep cosy at home with the ones they love and lazily order some exoticism. Only mildly exotic, though, I’m afraid: I’m told that this famous tikka masala was actually invented for our occidental taste buds that found real curry too hot.

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