To England, where my heart lies.

Before I had memories, I had nostalgia. I pined for other people’s memories. By 1990 I was 14, with no notable romantic experience under my belt (or above it, for that matter) and not a modicum of worldliness to speak of. I really, truly didn’t have my groove on yet. What I did have on — on repeat on my boom box, to be precise — was Kathy’s Song. If you want to know how I feel about moving to London, pop in your earbuds and listen to it while you read this post. For the full effect, you’ll have to imagine me singing along with the same descant I made up 20 years ago — because, you know, where would a Paul Simon love song be without girlie parts?

Maybe you pined a bit in your adolescence as well. Maybe you grew out of it. Me? Not as much. To this day, I don’t think of happiness as something you show with a smile on your face. Contentment, instead, is a lump in the throat and a diffuse but energizing longing in the soul. It’s a drizzly day, a gentle nudge out of the comfort zone, an adjusted but not totally unrecognizable perspective. It’s forging ahead while remembering to look back with kindness. It’s “cress” where you once had watercress, “nicking” a parking spot without denting a car, and, apparently, calling everything from a living room to a kindergarten class “reception.” It’s London, now that you mention it.

Last week we went flat- and school-hunting in the city that is soon to be our home. It wasn’t all English rose bushes, tiny Richard Branson look-alikes sitting next to us on Virgin Atlantic, and smartly dressed female real estate brokers saying, “Just stick it in there and jiggle it like a bastard. Excuse my language.” Though those were a few of the highlights. There were also sleepless nights with jet-lagged children, and, amazingly, a complete lack of time and energy to explore the food scene in any way, at all, whatsoever, in each and every real or imagined capacity. There was no Borough Market, no Barrafina, no Gelupo, no St. John, no Hix, no The Eagle, no Morito, no Vinoteca, no Andrew Edmunds, no Mandarin Oriental, no Yalla Yalla, no Harwood Arms, no Tayyabs, no Neal’s Yard Dairy, and no Cookbook Cafe, despite all of your helpful suggestions. You can be sure that we will hit that list HARD when we arrive for reals in July. (Book your flights now, won’t you please?)

Instead of any of that, I was tailed around the city for five days straight by an egg and watercress sandwich operating under the alias Egg & Cress. It even followed me home on the plane. I kept eating it, but then there it was again. Sometimes it jumped off the shelves at the market. Twice we found it in a small sandwich shop next to Cope’s new office. Once it was handed to me by a flight attendant. Clearly Egg & Cress really likes me.

Thank goodness I like it, too. It makes me happy. Not smiley happy, of course. It’s more of a heightened-awareness-of-beauty-due-to-viewpoint-set-askew, deliciousness-in-dissonance kind of happy. Not a bad day’s work for a sandwich, right? Still, I think I’ll save the full Kathy’s Song treatment for Borough Market. Assuming we ever make it there.

  • Wow, the second I saw the title of this post it took me right back to listening to that song at about age 14 or 15. Nice!ReplyCancel

    • I love how universal that song is turning out to be. Who knew we all heard the drizzle of the rain? :)ReplyCancel

  • I still cannot believe you are moving to the UK. We have some friends who made the move last October, and they are in love with it!!! I hope you will still be writing, cooking, and sharing your lovely recipes!

    I have always wanted to make egg salad with watercress. You made this recipe look amazingly delicious!ReplyCancel

    • Denise, I will definitely be forging on with Umami Girl and continuing to follow the wonderful work of all of my friends. No idea where I’d be without the internet, but I’m glad not to have to find out. Makes moving so much easier. xxReplyCancel

  • Your writing is so quietly beautiful, and powerful. The images float. I was going to tell you my favorite lines, but there were too many. (OK, I pick this one: “Contentment, instead, is a lump in the throat and a diffuse but energizing longing in the soul.” Thought this one was a close second: “…smartly dressed female real estate brokers saying, ‘Just stick it in there and jiggle it like a bastard. Excuse my language.'”)

    I’m just so glad the web means I’ll continue to follow you, and that you’ll continue to be writing in English.

    Also, in July, find your way to the Hummingbird Cafe for cupcakes. And that is all.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl. Thank you. Lovely person, you are, especially because you know how much I adore the way you write.

      A law colleague once introduced me to the banana cake recipe from Hummingbird. It may have been the best thing to come of my law career. You’ll have to visit, please, so we can go there. xxReplyCancel

  • monique

    your writing is alive and compelling–i’m happy to have stumbled upon it. how enviable to read that your UK adventure is to come. we returned to the US last year from two years there and loved it thoroughly, more than thoroughly, to the bottoms of our souls. may your adventure be equally charmed in that rich, magnificent place. the food there is exciting. be sure to go to monmouth coffee and ottolenghi and to check out the funky, wonderful clothes shop called fifi wilson on monmouth street.ReplyCancel

    • Hi Monique, thank you so much! I’ve already got my eye on Ottolenghi now that I’ve seen the gorgeous cookbook and will certainly check out your other recommendations. Hope you’ll continue to read and suggest!ReplyCancel

  • OH Carolyn,
    I was just searching some recipe for quick lunch and found this…
    Love it how simple this sound, Just few ingredients and then HEAVEN!!!
    I am making this sandwich now, trust me I have never paired eggs slices with watercress…
    Yumm…ReplyCancel

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