Today marks a special day for me because exactly one year ago, I embarked on my four month adventure in London. I had spent the whole summer preparing for my trip–applying for my passport and student visa, buying new clothes for the cold winter months, planning what to bring and what to leave at home, and reading up on oodles of information about the city. I left America as prepared as I could being someone who had never traveled alone or ever left the country. I had no idea what to expect, and that lack of control made me unbearably anxious to leave. I spent the last week of my summer wondering what exactly I had gotten myself into and questioning why I could have possibly thought studying abroad was a good idea.
I remembering feeling like I was dreaming as I said my final goodbyes to my mom and made my way through security at SFO. Everything seemed unnatural and out of place, so much that I didn’t even want my morning coffee–unheard of! Although I left my mom in tears at the airport, I was never truly homesick once I was in London, which validated what she kept telling me before I left: “London is the right choice for you.”
I was lucky to be able to spend four months in the city because it allowed me to feel comfortable calling it “home.” I got to see many beautiful places and met some delightful people. However, one of my favorite parts of being in London was all of the delicious food that was always available. Since London is such a multicultural city, it was easy for me to find and enjoy different kinds of cuisine including Indian, Lebanese, Italian, Turkish, American, Japanese, Spanish, French, Dutch, and traditional English pub food.
One thing that I became hopelessly addicted to while in London is traditional afternoon tea. While in my flat, I would enjoy a warm cup of tea paired with a few Digestives or Hobnobs (English biscuits/American cookies). However, this does not compare to the deliciousness of a proper afternoon tea, which comes complete with a selection of finger sandwiches, a few small desserts, and a scone with clotted cream and jam. I loved afternoon tea so much that I went three times–at the Royal Garden Hotel that borders Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, the Fourteas in Stratford-Upon-Avon, and the Orangery at Kensington Palace. Despite going multiple times in London and a few times back here in America, I can never seem to remember how deceptively filling all of the tiny treats are. They look small, but boy do they sneak up on you, especially when you’re given a whole pot of tea all for yourself! This photo shows the afternoon tea I enjoyed with my roommates at the Orangery, which was my favorite because of the delicious food and its beautiful location–on the grounds of Kensington Palace.
Another British tradition I was lucky to enjoy is a traditional Sunday roast. My favorite one was from the first night that my mom was in London to visit me. It was a Sunday, so we ventured out in the rain to The Mall Tavern, a pub around the corner from our bed and breakfast. We shared a roast dinner, complete with yorkshire pudding and a pint of cider for each of us. Sitting together in the corner of a warm and softly lit pub was the perfect way to start our week-long adventure together.
A few weeks after being in London, three of my friends and I went on a weekend trip to Amsterdam, where we also enjoyed some amazing food. We started our Saturday morning in the city with traditional Dutch pancakes. Instead of getting a stack of fluffy American-style pancakes, we were served one large pancake that reminded me of a crepe. They can be made either savory or sweet, and we enjoyed them so much that we got pancakes for lunch later that day! This picture shows the apple spiced pancake I ordered for breakfast, with big apple slices cooked right inside! It was simple, but very tasty.
The last thing that I want to feature on this post (although there is so much more I could talk about!) is a donut I also got while in Amsterdam. I have no fear in claiming that this was the most delicious donut I have eaten in my entire life. Although I don’t normally like making such assertive claims, I have yet to find a donut that can compete with this one. As you can see from the photo, it looks more like a pile of M&M’s, but I promise you there is a donut under there! As if the layer of M&M’s wasn’t enough, the entire donut was glazed and there was a layer of chocolate underneath the candies. I’m pretty sure the nutritional value of this donut is negative, but it was worth every bite (and calorie!) and I can still remember how utterly scrumptious this indulgent treat was.
My time in London surpassed all of my expectations and gave me a beautiful, exciting, and, most importantly, delicious four months to cherish and reflect on fondly for years to come. I hope you enjoyed reading about some of my most-loved food experiences, and keep an eye out for a yorkshire pudding recipe–it’s coming soon!