Monday, August 8, 2016

Eken

Guldgränd 8
104 65 Stockholm, Sweden

+46 8 517 353 07

by Beau Cadiyo

I was running through the Great Park when I suddenly missed Cleveland.  

This happens every few days or so; something triggers a memory, and suddenly I'm transported, almost in body, back to Northeast Ohio.  It has happened with all sorts of places that I don't remember having any special connection to, and, of the places I do hold in high regard, I often don't think of them at all.  In this case, it started with Luna bakery, at Cedar Fairmount.  For God's sake, I've literally stumbled into a Pierre Herme macaron store, and there's a La Duree at the end of my favorite arcade; the bakery around the corner from me has impeccable croissants, and I have a sourdough starter that makes perfectly thin, puffed pizza dough or baguettes, AND in addition, I think I've set foot in Luna exactly twice, yet I yearn to walk by and look in and see people enjoying coffee, reading a paper, loving life.  

I miss the intersection of Caves Road and Mayfield.  I've stopped there once, to park at the southeast corner and try to walk to a farmers market on the northwest corner.  There's a gas station on another corner, and a giant church on the fourth corner, surrounded by so much grass that I sometimes think it is so that angels, descending from heaven, have a landing pad.  There's also a hill going north, and every time I was coming up Caves road and turning left to get back to Cleveland, I always wondered what was up that hill, but I never drove up it, just to see.  South on Caves, there's a park, the Bessie Benner Metzenbaum Park, where, in the springtime, you can pull up giant clumps of ramps.  I guess that I like that park because I took my then-girlfriend, now wife, there on our second date to dig in the ground; we got married on our third date, so I suppose one might say it was successful.  

I miss the giant planters shaped like calla lilies that line Euclid Avenue downtown.  Yet, as much as I loved it, I don't really miss the Union Club - I would lovingly go back, but I don't yearn to stroll around the building and have every staff member greet me with, "Hello, Mr. Cadiyo."  But I miss the planters.  

I miss East Cleveland.  I miss driving on the back streets, dodging potholes, going five miles an hour and gazing into paint peeling, boarded-up, falling-down houses with debris and high grass and abandoned cars and stories lost forever.  I miss seeing teenagers yelling at each other on the sidewalks, laughing on stoops and porches; I miss seeing little girls with beads in their hair playing games in the summer heat, while little boys, pretending to be men, walking slowly with their hands in their pockets, world-weary brows furrowed against the sun.  

I miss all of the barbecue joints I never went in.  And I miss Freddie's, and R Ribs, which I went in too often.  

I miss the smell of the lake in August.  I remember a date I went on once, to Edgewater; it was the first date I went on in Cleveland.  The girl's great-grandfather had been one of the masons who sculpted the Guardians of Transportation, and she pointed each one out proudly, and the West Side Market, and then we went to the beach, which wasn't a beach to me because I am from California, and there was a riot in the parking lot, and two groups of kids, armed with sticks and farm implements, attacked each other half-heartedly, almost perfunctorily, and we walked around them and wondered aloud if we should call the police, but we didn't.  

I miss the dead ends of Lyndhurst - all small, impeccably maintained houses.  

I miss the Amish.  If you go to 8675 Parkman Mespo Road in Mesopotamia, and go down the driveway, there are parking spaces in front of the barn.  Ignore the first house; they don't sell anything.  In the second house, though, they have stacks and stacks of fresh eggs, all piled up and ready to sell.  The old man who lives there looks like a hobbit; the house smells like eight years of homelessness, so feel free to stand outside, where it smells like dog shit but is still preferable to the entryway.  The dog will bark, but he's too shy to come near you.  Wait while he goes downstairs to get four dozen eggs, then pay him, and rush to Giovanni's, get some bacon, go home, and have days and days of incredible breakfasts.  (I think my record was eight dozen.)  If you make friends with him, come harvest time, he'll sell you giant celery, and abnormally large carrots that you can pull out of the ground yourself, and he'll tell you how to cook them.  

I miss Costco rotisserie chicken skin.  I miss the parking lot at Costco, and those magic days when you can get the best pull-through spots.  

I miss turtles from East Coast Frozen Custard.  

I miss the intersection of I-90 and Route 2.  

I miss sailing from Chagrin Lagoons Yacht Club, dodging logs coming down the Chagrin river, and standing at the bow of a yacht, looking for a near-invisible mark in the distance, calling out to the captain, and seeing the inside of Frank Inman's nose as he stares up at the strips of ribbon flapping on the sail, his forearms straining on the sheets.  

I miss the lobby of the Key Tower.  What do they have there, a Starbucks?  A soda fountain?  But God, I'd love to walk through it again.  

I miss the statue of Lincoln.  I think I saw it three times.

I miss the folly of the government, the almost criminal folly.  The almost blatantly criminal folly, and the blind support of Cleveland's citizens, given so few reasonable alternatives.  I would gamble that the Cleveland City Government is the least effective, most terribly run government in America.  The single most eloquent argument for giving the Cuyahoga County Council complete power over Cleveland is housed at 601 Lakeside.  But I miss it.  I miss knowing that if I had a problem, I had the cell numbers of three councilmen on my phone.  I miss walking through the hallways and knowing that - just by being in the building - I'd increased the average IQ of the occupants by double digits.  I miss seeing the signs pointing opposite ways, one indicating the direction "Mayor" and the other indicating "Public Safety."  I miss the drinking fountains with their permanent "out of order" signs.  And I miss the guards, tired no matter the time, hassling people with the intensity of third-world customs agents looking for a bribe.  

So I was in the middle of a fifteen mile run, missing all of these things and feeling sorry for myself.  But then I turned the corner onto the Long Walk.  

Twenty minutes later, I'd touched Windsor Castle and peed against an oak tree in the Queen's Deer Park, where she walks her corgis on the weekend, and thought to myself that sometimes, London isn't half bad.  

The burgers at Eken are also not half bad - in fact, they are probably the equal of the burgers at the Tremont Tap House, which, of course, is pretty damn good.  However, at approximately $30 a burger, they're stupidly expensive.  It's almost worth a flight back to Cleveland.  

Friday, April 15, 2016

In N Out

4865 Calle Real
Goleta, CA 93111
United States
+1 800-786-1000

http://www.in-n-out.com/

by Beau Cadiyo

She was blonde, with Crossfit-shaped shoulders and a well-earned tan, and as she walked down the Hollywood Walk of Stars, her quads twitched under her Spandex shorts as if she might lunge at any rare steaks that came within her testosterone-fueled reach.  What really caught my eye, though, was the message scrawled across her shirt that summed up our time in Los Angeles:

"EVERYTHING IS A COMPETITION."

As she strutted past me on the Hollywood Walk of Stars, I was reminded of another blonde I'd seen earlier that day.  I was sitting with my wife at a sidewalk cafe for breakfast, and in the pristine Beverly Hills street was a shiny new Mercedes.  After a few minutes, a platinum blonde woman came out of a doorway holding a cup of coffee; she was in her 50s, but looked as if she had been well sculpted to look much younger.  Something about her signalled that she hadn't worked herself to buy the car - she was being well taken care of.  I mused that, perhaps, it was all part of a plan she'd worked out when she was far younger to find someone to buy her nice things.  If that was the case, she'd grasped a basic truth early on in life: that if someone wanted to play that age-old game where wealthy men find hot young women and trade masculine money and status for feminine sexuality, such a person could probably do it in Los Angeles.  If that was the case, I wondered when she'd decided that that was the game she wanted to play.  If she had played such a game knowingly, who else was she playing with - or against?  And who else was playing that game, but didn't realise it?

It also reminded me of a theory I came up with when walking the streets of London with my friend, Frank Maul.  We walked down Savile Row, and were talking about the ways in which cities were centres of fashion, and I proposed that the reason urban dwellers care about fashion is because fashion is a sexual signal.  The sexual marketplace must be greater and more competitive in giant cities than it is in smaller ones, or towns, because there are more people competing for sexual attention.  Thus, anyone wishing to to play that game has to differentiate themselves however they can.  Fashion has to evolve more rapidly and in more extreme ways in these bigger playing fields.  Hot women everywhere are pretty much the same; however, their display of sexual availability or fitness in Topeka will be different than it would have been if they'd lived in Miami, or New York, because the game is different.

Seeing the message "EVERYTHING IS A COMPETITION" thus summarised the entire vibe of California for me.  While this Crossfitting Amazon may have meant the message to apply mostly to athletics, I thought that it was also true of everything else in Los Angeles - that every exercise session, every clothing choice, ever meal, every eyebrow pluck could add to one's reproductive potential - or destroy it when it mattered most.  If you weren't paying attention to those ramifications, you weren't playing hard enough.  There were plenty of people playing - and if you weren't conscious you were in a game, you were already losing.  The oppressive atmosphere I felt everywhere - walking through Hollywood, driving, lying in a tiny top-floor apartment in a building off the 101 - was the oppression of scrutiny, of women subconsciously judging my fitness for reproduction and men judging my level of threat.

Aware, of course, that I was on a honeymoon, and that I wasn't playing anymore, it was no big deal for me to throw caution to the wind and eat a Double Double at the In-N-Out in Goleta.  As always, it was stupendous.  My vegetarian wife even had a cheeseburger and said she loved it.  As I walked back to the car, her fingers entangled in mine, I didn't think about competing - I only thought about getting away from Los Angeles and seeing more of the beautiful state I used to call home.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Musso and Frank Grill

6667 Hollywood Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90028
(323) 467-7788
http://mussoandfrank.com/

by Beau Cadiyo

My friend Frank's son, Frankito, is graduating soon from the University of Dayton.  It's obviously an exciting time for him, but it's making me feel...anxious.  I mean, fifteen years ago I was in the same position as he is: in the middle of my last semester of school, recently broken up with a girlfriend, and about to be launched into adulthood, while seeing the world as this big, bright, shiny object that just needed me to emerge from the education system and complete its perfection.  A decade and a half of experiences later, his transition into the real world is making me put a mirror up to my own life to see if I've lived up to my promise, if I've been the person I hoped I was back then - and, if not, if I've still got a chance to be the man that the great and ambitious youth hoped to some day be.

But more of that in another post.  His graduation, like many major life events, is also a time for gifts.  I have been mulling over the sorts of things that a young person - particularly a young man in Frankito's shoes - should have in the early stages.  I make no claim that this is an exhaustive list, and it is entirely based on my own completely biased opinions of what people should be able to do, and have.

Also, it is all things - mostly inexpensive things - that I think young people should have that they might not think about.  On Facebook, I asked people for things they thought graduates should have, and a lot of people suggested experiences, or services.  That's fine, but almost nobody will get a graduate an experience or service.  They'll buy things.  So I asked for things.  Also, everyone starting off in an apartment with friends will have a couch, a bed, a table, some chairs.  They might have a television; they might have house plants.  But beyond that, for the most part, they're going to be lost as to what will make their lives easier, and what sorts of things they should learn about when they're younger so that they can develop skills that serve them for the rest of their lives.

So here's the list.  I'll add to it as I think of more things.

Ruhlman's Twenty and Ratio.  These books have taught me more regularly applicable life skills than perhaps anything outside of Dale Carnegie (which he already owns).  Twenty outlines cooking techniques that, when known and practiced, will pretty much let you take ingredients anywhere in the world and cook them to be at least edible, and more than likely, delicious.  Ratio deals with how to take simple ingredients and combine them in ratios to make a huge variety of things, from bread to pancakes to mayonnaise, from scratch.  Even if you just learned to braise, make crepes and bread, and whip together mayonnaise, you'd be guaranteed a lifetime of success at dinner parties, and you'd impress any date.
As Seth Godin recently pointed out, however, cooking also provides a lot of lessons/metaphors for life.  For example, start with great ingredients.  Perfect your techniques.  Work hard.  If you don't have great ingredients, work with what you have, or use what you DO have to make them better, or adjust your technique.  Be flexible.  Develop your knowledge and skills to adjust to what the grocery store - or life - provides you.  If you can't stand the heat, adjust the heat.  Smarter writers than I could add on to this list.  I'll stop there.

Cast Iron Skillet/Dutch Oven.  The most durable, versatile, and, when found at a yard sale, the cheapest way to outfit a kitchen.  Use it on the stove, in the oven, in a campfire; beat it up, re-season it, and keep going.  Never wash it.  Pass it on to your kids.

The 12 Bottle Bar.  More than likely, he's going to drink, so he might as well drink well.  In my mind, no book better conveys the fun of mixing cocktails, and the creativity that is available in good bartending, than this one.

An empty bookshelf, soon to be filled.  Thomas Carlyle once said, "What we become depends on what we read after all of the professors have finished with us. The greatest university of all is a collection of books."  Frankito, of all young people, understands the importance of continuing his own education; indeed, from some of his recent pronouncements, I get the impression that he realizes that he's only starting to learn.  Leaders are readers, and an empty bookshelf, soon to be filled with books that a recent graduate selects, will be a source of pride and beauty and wisdom.  Filling it can be done inexpensively with used books; even if it's used to show off one's tastes or knowledge, that's better than showing off more superficial features.

Electric Kettle.  For coffee, tea, rice, whatever.  The American obsession with stovetop kettles - which require monitoring and wasted heat - is insanity.  A better option: this incredible tool that boils water, then automatically shuts off.  Bam.

Aeropress.  Make espresso-strength or regular-strength coffee.  As someone else said, "with an Aeropress, you can make world class coffee on an airplane tray."

A good chef knife - but not a set.  In a pinch, this might be the only knife he needs; it should be the only one he has, at least to start out, until he realizes the particular utilities of other individual knives.  However, one good chef knife will do him wonders - and it won't clutter up his kitchen.

Travel toiletry Kit.  This would include a small bottle of Dr. Bronner's, a travel toothbrush, travel size contact lens solution and a case, a small pack of baby wipes, and a small bottle for aftershave, all things that are useful on a 17-hour plane flight.  Razors, deodorant, etc. can all be found on the ground.

Passport.  Because international travel is required.  Also, he needs one to get to come see me.

Washboard.  An odd choice, I know.  However, I have found a lot of value in one of these little things for hand-washing clothes, both at home and whilst traveling.  It's easier than one might think, your clothes don't take as much of a pounding, and you can get by indefinitely on two or three sets of clothes.  Throw in an enamel basin if you're feeling particularly generous.

Gym membership.  This, I think, is something they should get themselves, because it's something that they need to pay for and value.  If they don't like the gym, then they should get a membership to some physical exercise that they DO enjoy - martial arts, rock climbing, rowing, sailing, a running club, whatever.  Use it to meet people, expand social networks, and maintain physical and mental fitness.  The most important thing: use it.

A flat of wide mouth mason jars.  Use them for water.  Beer.  Coffee.  Tea.  Storing lunch.  Soup.  Salad.  Can with them.  The lids are all interchangeable.  OK, so you can't microwave or bake with them, but these might be some of the best tools in the kitchen.  Oh crap, one broke?  Replace it.  Done.

A Sourdough Starter.  In my world, everyone knows how to knead their own bread, and they also know how to make their own starter.  The result: bread that tastes of the terroir of their neighbourhood, of the experience of their place, a story and a history in every bite.

Also, the French Dip at the Musso and Frank Grill is exceptional.  While the interior is a bit run down, and the servers seemed to have picked up their suits at random from a pile in the back, the French Dip was one of the best I've ever had.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Wheatsheaf

London Road
Surrey, GU25 4QF
Website

by Beau Cadiyo

Living abroad sucks sometimes.

Here are the things that are bothering me:

I don't speak the language.  I don't write it.  Every time I send an email, Google tells me I'm spelling "realize" or "color" or some other word incorrectly, and I'm like, no, that's how you spell it, except that's how you spell it IN AMERICA, and here it's different.

I can't tell when people are apologizing or when they're just being English-polite.  See, everyone - EVERYONE - says "sorry" all the time, for everything.  I could punch someone in the face and they'd say, "Sorry - didn't know your fist was moving in that direction, sorry, sorry, ta."  So I am always reassuring people that everything's fine, they don't need to apologize, and there's a moment where they look exasperated, like they're thinking, "I wasn't actually sorry, I just said it because that's what we say here."  Which then makes me feel socially awkward.  And then I question myself.  And then it's just this big spiral of self-doubt.

I have no job.  While I've been doing some job hunting and interviewing, there really isn't much point in trying to secure a full-time position until April, when I'll be in London full-time.  My sole source of income has been sharpening straight razors, which, while it definitely gets me in a Flow state, doesn't pay for Sipsmith and Laphroaig.

Getting to London is expensive.  Food's cheap, coffee is cheap, and now that I'm distance running, exercise is cheap, but to get into the city I have to pay about $20, and then there are Underground passes, drinks, coffee, meals, cigars, etc.  My life in Cleveland was manageable, even with Union Club dues.  London is different.

And...that's really about it.

Part of the problem with being human, it strikes me as I'm writing what was intended to be a list of serious complaints, is that we rarely look at the good things that are going on in our lives, and we blow these minor things up into major problems.  It's far too easy to look at the annoyances, or the little peas under 80 mattresses (or whatever it was in that children's story), than remember what's going swimmingly.

But my mentor, Frank, emailed me yesterday and asked me what I'd been up to.  After thinking for almost 20 seconds, I came up with this list:

Things I've done in the last ten days:
  • Ran a half-marathon in Paris; 
  • Foraged for plants and animals on the Jurassic Coast; 
  • Bought a pewter 1/2 pint tankard from the last King George reign for £2 and a leather-covered flask for £1 at an outdoor gypsy market; 
  • Interviewed for a dream job with a distillery; 
  • Even though working for a distillery would be awesome, I also set up another interview with a guy who seems like the older, Englisher version of me, and I kind of want to work for/learn from him more than I want to work for a distillery; 
  • Shaved my head for the first time in two years; 
  • Infused my own gin; 
  • Started organizing social media for a debate Club, the goal of which will be intense networking; 
  • Pulled "How Proust Can Change Your Life" from the shelf and packed it in my carry-on for a two week romp through California.  
Honestly, it's fairly difficult to imagine how I could ever complain about anything.

I will, however, suggest to the Wheatsheaf that they get their act together, burger-wise.  They have a six ounce gourmet burger on the menu, topped with an egg, bacon, etc.  It is basically an attempt to make something akin to the (actually quite excellent) gourmet burgers that are served in every city and many small towns in America, the height of which can be found at the Tremont Tap House.  At the Wheatsheaf, however, all of the ingredients are pretty good except the burger patty itself.  They apparently pull it out of a box in the freezer and drop it on the griddle to dehydrate; it is totally unimpressive.  In fact, it is worse than unimpressive; because the core and most basic element of the burger is sub-par, and it's combined with excellent toppings, the entire thing is more disappointing than if everything had been crappy.  They forget the foundation and focus on the accoutrements; they major in minor things.  For that, I give the Wheatsheaf three stars out of 47.  

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Seti's Polish Boys

Dean's Supply Parking Lot
3500 Woodland Ave
Cleveland, OH 44115
216-240-0745
Website

by Beau Cadiyo

I'm worried about Cleveland's reputation.

Here's what I mean: anyone who has lived in Cleveland in the last ten years should be able to feel - palpably feel - the change in how the city perceives itself.  We all know the story of its "Renaissance"; back in 2005, Ohio City was just the West Side Market; downtown was still dead; etc.  Ten years later, LeBron is back, jobs are up, and a national political party thinks that Cleveland would be a great place to hold its convention.

That last point is what worries me.  The Republican decision to come to Cleveland meant a lot to Clevelanders.  I mean, sure, it wasn't the Democrats, but one of the parties looked at what was happening in Northeast Ohio and said: "Yeah.  We want to be associated with that."  Cleveland told itself that this - this - was the opportunity to shine in the national spotlight, because even the NBA Finals wouldn't bring the world spotlight that a Convention would.  It was supposed to be positive publicity that money couldn't buy, and everyone would know that Cleveland was back, baby.

Then...Trump.

For the last two weeks, I've been mulling over the possibility that the Convention might be a Pyrrhic victory.  Cleveland beat all of the other cities in the country for the Convention, but a year later, we have to face the fact that it might instead be the site of a coronation.  America - and, really, the world - will, for decades, see Trump on that Cleveland stage; Trump will be surrounded by Cleveland confetti, and all right-thinking people will watch, aghast, as America's lowest, darkest moment occurred in Cleveland.  No fire on the Cuyahoga, no Decision, no industrial disaster could ever take the same negative toll on a city's reputation.

Then this morning, while I was bemoaning Trump's seemingly inevitable victory and the disastrous effect it would have on Cleveland's image, I had the thought that rather than be a mortal wound for the city, perhaps Cleveland could turn this into a victory after all.

Because what if Trump wasn't able to get to the convention at all?  What if, through the great tradition of civil disobedience, Clevelanders united to ruin his party?

I had a vision of Clevelanders taking to the streets - literally - in the same way that they blocked the Shoreway during the Tamir Rice protests, but for an entire week.  Imagine the streets of downtown filled with thousands of Cleveland citizens, mulling about, blocking traffic, getting arrested on international television, filling jails.  Eventually, there wouldn't be enough police or jail cells to detain them all, and, when they couldn't do any more, they'd have to just...let them go.  No vehicles would be able to move; Trump himself wouldn't be crazy enough to try to force his way through the surging crowds.  Sure, no work would be done, but let's face it - no work was going to be done that week anyway, since downtown was going to be effectively shut down.

And the convention would also be shut down.  None of the candidates or delegates would be able to get within miles of the Q, or the Convention Center; even getting around the perimeter of the city would be a nightmare for delegates.  The Republicans crowning Trump would be miserable, and, I suspect, many would just go home.

The best part: the world would see that Clevelanders cared, and united, and acted, and wouldn't back down in the face of a man who sees fascist dictators as role models.  If Clevelanders rose up and took the streets, they would earn the reputation of actually doing something to support our American Democracy when people elsewhere could not or would not.  The international image of the city would be enhanced instead of being destroyed, and the world would forever associate Cleveland not with the lowest moment of American history, when half the country united behind a proud and violent bigot, but with one of the highest points of our constitutional democracy since its founding, when we exercised our right to assemble, to speak, and, if necessary, to exercise other Constitutional rights in the first few Amendments.

It struck me that by destroying the convention, Cleveland and its citizens can protect our democracy.  It might be America's last, and best, chance.

Also, since Freddie's closed, Seti's has the best Polish Boys in the city.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Egham Best Kebab

138 Thorpe Lea Rd
Egham TW20 8BL
01784 463794

by Beau Cadiyo

Boris Johnson recently gave a speech advocating for Britain to leave the EU.  I'm not going to get into specifics, or take a side right now, but his reasoning ought to give hope to the Scottish Nationalists seeking to dissolve its ties from Great Britain.

Johnson argued that as part of the European Union, Britain was subject to control by a legislature from afar that didn't have Britain's best interests in mind.  Britain should leave this Union, he said, then renegotiate all of its relationships and pursue its own interests, independently of the rules and regulations its Union partners might want to impose on it.  It would be a lovely, peaceful, simple process.

I immediately thought: Well, what about Scotland and Wales?

Here's what I mean.  For a long time, Scotland and Wales were in a very similar situation that Britain finds itself in today: recognised independent countries, controlled by a legislature that met in a city - London - in another country - England, and subject to laws, rules and regulations that they had a voice in, but couldn't control.  They also paid taxes to this occupying force, and their money was spent on policies that benefitted the foreigners.

Scotland had a viciously contested referendum two years ago about whether to leave its Union with Great Britain and strike out on its own.  Most of England, including Conservative Borish Johnson, were petrified at the prospect of this rich area leaving and taking their wealth, then renegotiating all of the agreements that Scotland had with the rest of the UK.  They thought it was a crazy, idiotic idea to break up a union where London could dictate much of what went on in Scotland, taking in money and dishing out regulations like...well, like a Federal government.

But doesn't the same reasoning apply in both cases?  Let's substitute a few words in the above paragraph.
Johnson argued that as part of the United Kingdom, Scotland was subject to control by a legislature from afar that didn't have Scotland's best interests in mind.  Scotland should leave the UK, he said, then renegotiate all of its relationships and pursue its own interests, independently of the rules and regulations its UK partners might want to impose on it.  It would be a lovely, peaceful, simple process.  
Emotionally, I'm sure there's a great difference in the minds of the "Brexit" crowd, but intellectually, I'm struggling to see how the reasoning would differ.  Scotland, independent, should be able to look entirely after Scotland, and only subscribe to policies that Scotland wants to adopt - and a complete break from the United Kingdom would make that not both easier and better.  Anyone supporting Brexit should also support Scoxit and Walxit, if they have even a passing interest in intellectual honesty, integrity and consistency, for these independent entities should be able to look after themselves without meddling from afar.

Speaking of independent entities, the kebab at Egham Best Kebab is the polar opposite of the kebab at Corniche that I reviewed yesterday.  Massive, delicious, fresh and cheap, with healthy portions of both meat and veg, I'd recommend it to anyone looking for good food in Egham.  In fact, my mouth is watering; I think I'll go get one now.  

Monday, March 14, 2016

Corniche

Corniche
32 Coventry St, London W1D 6BR
020 7581 4296

by Beau Cadiyo

Since moving to London three months ago, I've noticed a strange trend.  There are small plastic bags everywhere - on sidewalks, on the side of the road, on trails in parks, hanging from the branches of trees, washed up on the shores of Britain's beautiful lakes.  They are tied at the top, and, trapped inside, is dog shit.  It seems like there is an emerging trend among dog owners in England to let their dogs defecate, pick it up in small bags, tie the bags up, toss them in the street  - and then prance off, proudly, as if they are doing other walkers a favour.  "You other pedestrians should thank us!" they seem to be saying.  "We put our dog's shit in a non-biodegradable container and left it here so that as it decomposes, it won't get on your shoes - that is, unless you step on it and it explodes!  Ah, no problem, you're welcome."

I brought this up to a few of my English friends here, both dog-owners and non-dog-owners alike, and the sentiment is always the same.  "I have no clue why they do that," one said.  "It makes no fucking sense."

As a runner who has seen hundreds, if not thousands, of these bags, and who has also read Kate Fox's incredible book Watching The English, I was initially puzzled and infuriated by dog owners who would do this.  But then I began to think, why would people - English people, that is - do such a thing?  And I came up with a theory.

The reason that English people bag up their dog shit comes down to the English rule for politeness - that is, they feel obligated to do something with their English dog's shit, since, after all, it's dog shit.  At the same time, English people are incredibly self-conscious about how other people perceive them, and terribly socially awkward; carrying around a small bag of dog shit both brings attention to them and emphasises that yes, their dog shits, and yes, they do it outside, and no, not everything is perfect in their lives, and immediately they end up regretting getting a dog that is so much trouble that it shits IN PUBLIC.  Plus, if they carry it around and see someone else that they know, the other person will immediately know that THEY TOUCHED SOMETHING THAT TOUCHED DOG SHIT, and isn't that disgusting, even if it's responsible?  So the solution is to drop the bag of dog shit as soon as nobody else is looking (because it would be more socially embarrassing if they were actually caught) and then go on their merry little English way, secure in their social standing and also feeling as if they did something toward doing their D-U-T-Y.

I'm open to other theories, but that's the one I'm going with right now.  It makes sense, in a peculiarly English sort of way.

If there's any restaurant that deserves to be closely identified with dog shit, it's Corniche, between Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus.  I went there with Frank, a Dutch friend visiting for a few days.  First, their kebabs are tiny.  Second, they have varying prices; a take-away kebab costs almost a pound less than one to eat in.  Third, when we went to pay, they charged my friend almost five pounds for a Coca-Cola, and added an extra pound onto the price of each kebab.  "The price in the menu was £6.49," I said.  The man behind the counter started wringing his hands nervously.  He muttered something, the only word of which I understood was, "taxes."  Now, one of the nice things about bars, restaurants and shops in the UK is that when they quote prices, taxes are already included, and people make purchasing choices based on that.  He was in a tight spot; he didn't think we'd know that, and, caught in his lie, had to lie more.

I don't know how many tourists they've stolen from, but in a country with a greater class action litigation system, someone would likely have sued them already - making a bundle for attorneys and putting these scam artists out of business.  Corniche deserves nothing less, and the people behind the counter should be set on an honest road before they become a UKIP commercial.