On Friday evening Max's parents, Philip and Jackie, drove up from Southampton to spend the weekend with us. When they arrived we went to the Thai/Malaysian/Chinese restaurant and then to the pub for a few drinks. Saturday we all drove to Hampton Court Palace, where I hadn't been for over a year. Hampton Court was Henry VIII's favorite residence, right on the Thames river and surrounded by extensive gardens and fountains. It's a bit touristy, but not as much as the center of London, so it is fun to walk around the gardens on a hot day.
After a few hours we drove to Southall, which is the Indian and Pakistani area of London (like China town). I really love Southall, but every time I've gone we haven't been able to spend a long time there. The whole atmosphere makes me forget I'm in England, with the flurries of saris, the smell of cooking curry wafting out of the restaurants, and the Bollywood music playing at merchant stands and blasting (with heavy bass) out of cars cruising up and down the street. I could spend hours in the wedding sari and jewelry shops, it's true craftsmanship right down to the intricate embroidery and gold weaving. Jackie and I both agreed we would love to spend a whole day just trying on saris.
We stopped by our favorite curry restaurant for a snack and then did some spice shopping. I bought loads of spices to use here and to take back to Port Townsend, because spices in Southall are incredibly cheap for very large amounts. This is what I bought, each 100g bag costing about 50p: garam masala, hot madras curry powder, fennel seeds, turmeric, paprika, coriander, cumin, whole chilies, ground ginger, and tandoori masala. Needless to say we will be cooking a lot of curries for the next few months.
Jackie was planning out a fantastic meal for us that evening because I'm leaving soon and also to celebrate my birthday coming up in August. Once again I realized that in the cooking department I still have so much to learn. She is absolutely amazing and can make the most wonderful dishes look effortless. I found out something new about Jackie, her grandparents were some of the most renowned chefs in France. Her parents were well off and lived in a house with servants, but they also learned everything their parents knew about cooking which they in turn taught Jackie. It's no wonder she is so good at it.
That evening for a starter we had smoked salmon taramasolata with bread and gherkins (small pickles), second course was crab flambéd in cognac with cayenne and baked in puff pastry, third course was scallops cooked in garlic butter, and the main course was grilled marlin with a side salad of rocket and light oil dressing. Dessert, like usual, was cheese. Camembert in this case. We also drank 3 bottles of wine and the bottle of champagne that Paul and Rachael gave us.
I thought that there would be far too much food, but the portions were just right and everything was cooked perfectly. It was one of the best meals I've ever had. To remember the evening they cut the champagne cork and put a £1 coin in it, which I will put next to my other cork and £1 back home that was to remember our trip to Bournemouth a few years ago.
Philip and Jackie had to leave early the next morning to meet their Indian friends in Southampton. Their daughter, Malini, is going to live with them while she goes to Southampton University. Before they left Jackie gave me £30 for my birthday, which was very kind as I need money right now. I will most likely see them again before I leave, but it will probably be brief.
Whoa! You know Southall. Alright, let me rephrase that so it doesn't sound completely ignorant. You know that Southall actually exists! I grew up there. I went to school there. I can't believe that someone else knows the area. That's so cool how you know the place. Sorry if I sound completely mad, but it just kinda mesmerizes me. You made me miss home [I live in Florida now]. Wow. Sorry if this message seems a little odd, it's just that -- dude, you know my home! You seem so taken by the place too. To me though, it's just home. I'm glad you like it so much.
Wow that's a pretty cool coincidence. :) I wish I knew Southall better, I'd spend more time there given the chance. If you don't mind me asking, how old were you when you moved away from Southall? It's a great place to escape from the norm, I love it.
Well, I'm 18 now, but when I moved away, I was....ermmm, 11? Yeah, that sounds about right. It's funny how you think Southall is a great place to escape the norm. For me, it's a great place to get back to my roots, get back to reality.