I've updated my photo album.
My ability to keep up with the tourist death-march flagged a bit today. After walking with Sturdy Helpmeet to Westminster Abbey (which turned out to be closed on Fridays -- d'oh!) we sauntered up Whitehall to the National Gallery. We didn't stay very long; we were both too tired to really take in that much art, and had trouble focusing. We tried again at the National Portrait Gallery, and I had the same problem (although Sturdy Helpmeet did much better).
Then we had lunch at a Mexican restaurant called Wahaca, and it confounded our snooty home-grown Tex-Mexified expectations by being really, really good. We expected something bland, but it was spicy and delicious and authentic in subtle, flavorful ways. In fairness, a lot of Tex-Mex sucks and is an insult to real Mexican food, so there's no intrinsic reason to think the English would be any worse at appropriating the cuisine, aside from England's not being adjacent to Mexico. But even by the standards of good Tex-Mex, Cal-Mex, and other variations of Mexican food that you can find in the Southwestern USA, Wahaca does a terrific job. Two thumbs up.
Then we visited the Transport Museum of London, which make us strangely grateful that we get to deal with global warming and not with having to wade through rivers of horse-poo to get from point A to point B in the city.
After that I was out of gas. Sturdy Helpmeet kept up the tourist chores while I returned to the bed & breakfast with Sturdy Helpmeet's purchases from the Transport Museum's book shop. (Sturdy Helpmeet <3 infrastructure.)
After some rest and recuperation, we had a lavish dinner at Barbecoa, a restaurant by Jamie Oliver and Adam Perry Lang, that claims to serve (among other things) "Texas Pit Smoked" beef and pulled pork (which really isn't Texas, strictly speaking, but hey). The food was delicious, but it bore little resemblance to anything a Texan would call BBQ. The cut of beef wasn't brisket, the sauce for both dishes was way too sweet, and it had no bite and no burn. And the beef was served with baked beans, not BBQ beans.
But here's the funny thing. It wasn't authentic as far as being BBQ was concerned, but it was real damned tasty, and I'm not sure what to think about that. I mean, if Wahaca can do great Mexican food, then surely someone like Jamie Oliver and his cronies can do real BBQ. On the other hand, if the British wanted to invent their own BBQ tradition -- and if they weren't going to do it with Jamaican jerked meats, which would probably be the way to go, all things considered -- then they could do a lot worse. It's not BBQ, it's Brit-BQ, and it seems to cater to a palette of comfort-food tastes that are distinctly British in some way that I feel like I see dimly, but don't yet fully comprehend.
The Electric Smack Shack
If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you'll never learn.
- More Stuff from London, including food