1. The food is shit.
There’s a weird, snobby holdover myth from decades ago that English food is shit. I wasn’t in London in the 40’s, so I can’t say whether it was true then or not, but the food in London now is incredible. To the extent where it rivals other major foodie cities like New York and Paris. The reason, I think, that London has this reputation is because too many people judge the food from pub fare. Yes: there is some starchy, bland food in pubs. But that’s true of bars everywhere, and it’s becoming less true in London as gastropubs become a thing.
But there’s some very good food in London, and not just in fine restaurants: the tiny curry joints on Brick Lane are solid, and the street food at the South Bank’s Borough Market is second to none. And the best burger I’ve had anywhere — including the United States — was at MEATliquor in Marylebone.
2. The beer is warm and flat.
No it fucking isn’t. If you order a cask ale (or a “real ale”), then yes, it will be prepared differently. It will be delivered to your glass via a hand pump rather than through nitrogen or carbon dioxide pressure, as most modern beers are. But that doesn’t make it “flat,” it just makes it a different (better) type of beer. It will also be stored in a cellar, which may have varying temperatures, but will regardless not be held in a refrigerator, and will not be so cold that you can’t even taste the beer. But “not freezing” does not equal “warm.” Cellars are virtually always below regular room temperature, so this myth is ridiculous.
If you have a problem with cask ales, the simple solution to this is to get one of the many other non-cask ale beers. You can tell them apart by their pumps. But the better solution is to redefine what you think good beer is. Because a good cask ale is infinitely better than a pint of Carling.
3. London’s all about tea.
The world loves the idea of tea time being a thing because it’s quaint and just insanely English. And while there’s no shortage of tea in London, it’s not as ubiquitous as people seem to think. Yes: you can go to touristy formal tea times, and yes, if you’re hanging out at someone’s place, they may offer you some tea, but coffee’s just as big in London these days as the tea — there’s a Costa, Starbucks, or a Pret on just about every city block.
4. It’s always expensive to eat out.
Not really. London’s an expensive city, but it’s possible to get good meals for cheap. Try street food at one of the many markets, try a curry house on Brick Lane where you can bargain the prices down to an almost absurd price, or try any of the ethnic or traditional spots throughout the city. It’s just not that hard to find a cheap meal.
5. Fish ‘n’ chips is the quintessential London meal.
My guess is the reason why every American or Canadian tourist who comes to visit London asks for “traditional fish ‘n’ chips” is because we Americans think it sounds quaint. But whenever family or friends from back home would come to visit, I’d have to say, “Yeah, that’s not as big of a thing as you think it is. How about a full English breakfast, or maybe some drunk falafel instead?”
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