Friday, 28 May 2010

Bienvenue à Londres

My initial reaction is that St Pancras International should be quite an unlikely place to find inspiration, but the more I think about it the more sense it makes. The slick passage from London to Paris, the commuter junction where head office high-flyers collide with aimless exchange students and city-breakers. All leap up and over heavily patterned wheeled luggage and laptop bags get tangled up mid rush hour. As I slide on auto pilot from train to tube I conclude that there must be some serious palates on these escalators. Schmoozing away under the departures board two perfectly tailored suits unravel their strategies over large glasses of Sancerre. The black board next to them announcing platters of smoked salmon and intelligent cheese selections. It's yuppie-foodie heaven, where did this all come from? It's so cool it's naff. It's like the 1990s with more cash and better hair. All the fixtures and fittings are modern, clean, industrial and the food is all a bit sexy.
Each counter is like a cookery show TV set. Any minute now a celebrity chef is going to swan in, reach down and wash his/her hands in that strategically placed washing up bowl under the counter top. There's a constant stream of things that have been made earlier and as I race past with my seat reservation gripped in my teeth there is a lot of movement, but very little actual cooking going on.
You know how I feel about Peyton and Byrne and they are no exception. Like the others; hardy metal chairs line the modern glass facade encasing eccentric ever-so-now cupcakes and their marvellous pies...I thought about it but carried on up the escalator - by the time I get home tonight I won't even want to look at food, just crawl straight into bed and try to forget that my day started at 4am this morning.
I reach the platform with 20 minutes to spare and decided I could just about deal with a sandwich. The Camden Food Co. wants me to eat right with organic this and that. I am suspicious of such variety, as a rule, the simplest option is often the best. Good Bread, Cheese & Wine and I'm happy. Whereas..a trio of something with a paste of something else, pointless foam and drizzle of uninspired is less great.
Blinded by my options and starting to run out of time I hurled a bottle of fancy squash, slice of chocolate tiffin and an (eyes rolling) halloumi, pineapple & chili jam sandwich onto the counter...£8.03. Really? £8.03? Robbed.

My mood lifted when I boarded the train full of grumpy, exhausted passengers. I was feeling a little more lively, partly to do with the sugar intake. The lady who had reserved the seat next to mine then benefited from the napkin that had been popped into my Camden Food Co. carrier bag when she trapped and cut her finger whilst moving luggage in a bold and precarious fashion. She did this very bravely to a chorus of tuts, hisses and teeth sucking. She responded beautifully by taking off her shoes and getting out her laptop - which she managed to position in such a way that further obstructed the aisle.
I digress from my initial observations of the food court that is St Pancras, apologies. This is a place where we meet the Parisians, we should be upping our foodie game in this way, so I can see a sense in all these food theatrics. We are getting our taste buds ready for gastronomic excellence, or are we breaking the news gently, preparing all of our continental visitors for the chip cob?


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