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A friend from the States asked the other day what my favorite thing about London has been so far. It felt like a rookie answer, what I told her — something a person would say if she didn’t really know anything yet. But it was the truth. “How brand-new everything feels,” I said. A funny thing to say about a two thousand year-old city.

A lazy scholar’s paradise

Nothing compares to the feeling of synapses firing like your own personal cadre of mad little minions with every step you take. Being somewhere new makes you feel both smarter and dumber at the same time, which is exhausting in its own right. On the one hand, it’s a lazy scholar’s paradise, with a steep and effortless learning curve. But on the other hand, it’s sort of like going about your usual business — at the grocery store, on the subway, crossing the street — after having downed two or three shots of cheap tequila. In the broad light of mid-morning. On a Monday. You approach your day with relative confidence. How hard could buying a few ingredients for dinner be, especially for someone as AWESOME as you are? (Oh wait, I forgot — we’re not actually drunk on cheap tequila. Scratch the awesomeness thing.)

For the love of god

But before you know it, you’re stepping on your own flip-flop heels in the middle of the grains aisle at Budgens, with four employees surrounding you. All five of you are scratching your heads, trying to figure out whether porridge oats or pinhead oats have anything to do with the steel-cut oats you’re looking for. And you’re scratching your head a little extra hard, because doesn’t the leading brand of steel-cut oats in the States come from Ireland, for the love of god?

Saved by a sea bean

Just when you start to think it’s all pinheads and puzzled salespeople (or hold on, were those security guards surrounding you in a tight circle, maybe?), you happen upon something that’s new and unknown in a love-at-first-sight kind of way. Something like samphire — a crisp, salty summer vegetable that grows at the edges of marshland in England and on both coasts of the United States (among numerous other places I could have run into it in the past, but didn’t). The minute I saw it on the shelf, I knew it was something special. I knew we would have a moment, samphire and me.

And we did. You can read all about it here

Talk to you soon.

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About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

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