London Street Food

Street food is more than just a tasty morsel eaten on the run. It's great food plus the thrill of the hunt ... It's the absolute bliss of realizing you've reached the corner of Broadway and 17th just as the Wafels & Dinges truck has pulled up. If you think 'bliss' is laying it on a bit thick, this is because you have not had a dessert waffle
Hungry in London?  we recommend Daddy Donkey Mexican Grill Gotham GalGotham Girl is back       The world teems with street food. Cities like Bangkok, Jaffa, Rio de Janeiro and Mexico City have street food cultures so expansive, so bursting with variety, and so colorful, it's hard to find the words. Therefore, I won't. Besides, that is not my brief. I'm here to look at how New York and London stack up when viewed through the 'street food culture' lens. And honestly? They aren't. Yes, both offer food you can eat on the street so technically speaking, they both have street food but here the similarity ends. NYC's street food scene is out on the street, on the move, and now a sizzling presence online. It's dessert_waffle1evolving so fast that it's hard to keep up. One day it was just hot dogs in front of midtown office buildings or tourist traps. Suddenly, Mexican food abounded at the Red Hook Ball Fields. Next thing you know, we're grabbing everything from waffles to dumplings to sopapillas from carts, trucks - even kitted-out bicycles - in almost any neighborhood in town. London's street food scene is built around the market stalls and in places where those stalls have traditionally always been found. I'm not saying that you couldn't grab something fast and extremely yummy during a stroll through London's markets. Just that in order to find something fast and yummy to eat on that stroll, you may need a market. That's fine with me. I love those markets. We don't have as many well-established or robust ones in the U.S. as you have elsewhere in the world and except for a handful of them, we don't do them as well. Luckily, NYC has the excellent Union Square Green Market, which is always a treat. Therefore, it's not surprising that I often make time on my trips to get over to at least one or two London markets. I will now commit tourism sacrilege. I don't particularly care for Portobello. I was neither overwhelmed nor under-whelmed. I was merely whelmed – by the market generally and by the food stalls there. I told you – sacrilege. On the other hand, I have very fond memories of a savory crepe-type thing enjoyed at Borough Market and a notably delicious falafel during a Sunday wander around Brick Lane. So, kudos on the market stalls for their culinary creations. Let us also acknowledge that there are some food carts in London but they seem to offer mostly roasted nuts, hot dogs and an occasional ice cream. Anything else is a notable exception. Speaking of notable exceptions, I have read about a "burrito mobile" called Daddy Donkey, found mostly in and about Leather Lane Market. They claim authentic Mexican cuisine. Has anyone tried it? I don't care as much about its authenticity as much as whether it tastes any good. I'd be interested to hear – because the further away I got from Texas in my life, the sadder and sadder the Mexican food offerings seem to get. Continue reading London Street Food

The Aztec Empire of Central America

When Moctezuma ate, four beautiful women would appear to wash his hands before passing him a bowl of foaming chocolate
Visit the Aztec Exhibition at The British Museum [free entry when you join as a member] MoctezumaOf course, it was a tragedy. Never in history has there been such a clash of civilisations. Never has there been a conflict as unfair as the fight between the Aztecs and the Spanish conquistadors, and it is hard not to see Moctezuma as the victim. What hope did he have against the Castilian aggressors, with their greed, their trickery and their superior military technology? He stands for every glorious and primitive monarch who has ever been overwhelmed by the white man. He is like Boudicca, crushed by the legions; or Cetewayo, his impis mown down by the Maxim gun; or Sitting Bull, his braves slaughtered by the US cavalry – except Moctezuma was far more glorious and more tragic than them all. When Moctezuma ate, four beautiful women would appear to wash his hands before passing him a bowl of foaming chocolate. When Moctezuma received visitors, they were obliged to enter barefoot and dressed in sacking, and to avert their eyes so religiously that no one was even sure what he looked like. When the king wanted to hunt, birds were discreetly ushered past his palace window, so that he could have a pop at them with his blowpipe. When Moctezuma pricked his ears with a needle, his people seriously believed that the trickle of blood would help the crops to grow. Adorned with gold and the feathers of tropical birds, he ruled the most powerful and opulent civilisation of the Americas. He was the elected and unchallenged master of a city of 200,000, a place of ancient temples and fantastic statuary, set dreamlike on an island in a vast lake fringed by snow-capped volcanoes. So when, in 1519, he looked into his black polished obsidian mirror and saw – so it was said later – strange men riding on deer, he was completely unprepared for the shock that fate had in store. Continue reading The Aztec Empire of Central America

Gotham Girl comes to London

In a series of posts we will hear the views, insights and amusing tales of this inspired longtime Boris supporter who jumps between New York and London at frequent intervals:  Downtown Gotham Girl. No doubt Gotham Girl would understand Boris when he recently opened London Fashion Week and described London as "the greatest city on earth".
Gotham Gal
Gotham Girl
I've spent time in both New York and London. Like so many others before me, I've noticed that the cities have much in common. However, I think the interesting stories lie in how each city manages things – for good or bad – in their own way.      Travel 'New York vs. London' is popular but inaccurate. It's not 'vs.' It's not even 'or.'  It is very much 'and'.  There is New York and there is London. Then there is the act of traveling between the two. I do it rather a lot and travel between the two cities has been very much on my mind lately -- partially because I'm overdue for a trip and partially because Boris was in New York recently to meet with Mayor Bloomberg and boost tourism between the two cities. I am all for that idea. In fact, I have done more than my part to boost travel between two of my favorite cities, for years - hosting London-based friends by the planeload, playing tourist myself in London year after year. One of my favorite parts of the trip - regardless of direction - is that wonderful moment when I am confronted with THE QUESTION. No, not: "Will the taxi line be ungodly?" - a New York-only question since London does a far better job with trains to and from the airports. Nor is it: "Where will I find a decent Dover sole now that Manzi's is closed?" though that question still looms large now that Manzi's is closed. No, THE QUESTION is "Business or pleasure?" Continue reading Gotham Girl comes to London

Congestion Charge Extension to be removed

The axe will fall on the Western Extension Zone

You may have heard the scurrilous rumour that I have reneged on my promise to remove the Western Extension of the congestion charge.

I am blogging about this now to tell you that is emphatically not true. When I was elected, I promised to give Londoners the consultation they never got. Londoners expressed the overwhelming view that it should be removed, and I promised to honour that judgement. I maintain that promise today, and to make it absolutely crystal clear; we will be removing the Western Extension next year. We have to jump through a number of tedious bureaucratic hoops before the axe can fall, but fall it will. The extended zone will be no more. It will be an ex-zone, the area formerly known as. It will be a dead zone! Find Boris and more Conservative news here

Investment in Infrastructure

railComment from Boris Johnson:  Whose jobs could we do without? ... the legions of officials whose responsibilities have been generated by the cascade of bad law from Whitehall and Brussels and all the other officals whose non-job is to service them

  Cuts! We're gonna have cuts! All three parties are now engaged in a competitive slash-fest. David Cameron was the first to level with the public, pointing out that the state of public finances made retrenchment inevitable. After weeks of weedy wibbling about efficiencies and economies, Gordon Brown has at last allowed the Old English word to pass his lips – short, sharp and honest. And now dear Nick Clegg has staggered wild-eyed before us, waving his chainsaw above his head and demanding "deep and savage" cuts in spending.
The electorate understands the need for cuts. The politicians claim to be determined to deliver. But what shall they cut? Well, there are the usual suspects: ID cards and the odd warship, and our old friend "waste". But those savings will be nothing like enough, and in any case they have long since been discounted in the arithmetic. The obvious answer is to look at the armies of public-sector officials, whose salaries make up 85 per cent of government spending.
Whose jobs could we do without? Hmm? I know what you are thinking. Since 1997, the ranks of the public sector have been swelled with what the TaxPayers' Alliance would call the politically correct non-job. Continue reading Investment in Infrastructure

Boris Promotes London Tourism in America

statue of liberty
Statue of Liberty (freefoto)
Mayor promotes London as business capital of the world in New York
Latest announcement: Mayor of London Boris Johnson and New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced a two-year tourism agreement between New York City and London to boost travel between the two cities. The cities will provide each other with outdoor media advertising space and NYC & Company and Visit London – their respective tourism arms – will share best practices as a way to maximise travel between the two destinations and will assist each other with at least one publicity event in each city.
London is the best city in the world to do business, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson told influential New York companies today. The Mayor had the privilege of ringing both the opening bell at NASDAQ and the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange, as he called on high tech and cutting-edge American industries to locate in London, the top global destination for digital innovation. The Mayor is in New York to champion 'London'.  In a series of financial services and business meetings today, he encouraged New Yorkers to remember the greatness of the past, and to now prove to the world that both New York and London are as confident as ever of their dominant position in the world. The Mayor outlined his vision of making London the business capital of the world, by creating a global centre for excellence across a range of sectors including high-tech, medical services and creative industries. He told audiences that embracing digital innovation is important for businesses on both sides of the Atlantic as they prepare for economic recovery, emphasising that London’s digital landscape makes it the top place to be. With events such as the London Olympic and Paralympic Games around the corner there has never been a better time or a greater opportunity for businesses to build and showcase their digital capabilities in London. The Mayor said: “The New York markets house some of the most impressively dynamic companies in the world and is where they go to take innovation and growth to the next level – the same is true for London. Our capital is at a turning point, with opportunities to use its energy, dynamism and diversity to excel as a world beating global city. Never before has the timing been more right for American companies to locate here. “We have an extraordinary talent in London to develop high tech and hugely creative industries. I want to build on that reputation to ensure we lead the pack, creating new technologies. In the coming years, London will set the benchmark for successful, sustainable and prosperous large world cities and American companies should have one of the lead roles in this.” Continue reading Boris Promotes London Tourism in America

Dr Samuel Johnson: 300th Anniversary of his birth this week

A17 -Samuel_Johnson_by_Joshua_ReynoldsYou know what, I doubt whether he'd even get a column in today's newspapers. No one would dare hire him. If Dr Johnson were writing in modern Fleet Street, his views would be denounced as utterly outrageous. Foreign ambassadors would be constantly on the Today programme, demanding apologies for the insult done to their country. Polly Toynbee would be in a state of permanent apoplexy. Any newspaper that dared to print his views would face the wrath of the Equalities Commission. It must be admitted – 300 years after the birth of one of the greatest figures of English literature – that some of his stuff can seem outré to the point of unacceptability. He is not just sexist. He is not just xenophobic. He is a free-market, monarchy-loving advocate of the necessity of human inequality. Listen to him bashing the Americans. "Sir, they are a race of convicts, and ought to be thankful for anything we allow them short of hanging." Ireland? Worth seeing, but not worth going to see. The French – a dirty bunch, blowing into the spouts of teapots to make them pour properly. As for the Scots, they are mainly liars who had no cabbage until Cromwell introduced it. They subsist on horse-food, and the finest sight a Scottish person can see is the high road leading to England. Not even Simon Heffer would get away with that kind of Jock-bashing, tongue in cheek or not. Samuel Johnson thought the decline in the use of the cane would harm educational attainment. It wasn't just that he was opposed to women having jobs. He thought it was a bit off for them even to paint or draw. "Public practice of any art, and staring in men's faces, is very indelicate in a female," he said; and as for a woman preaching, it "was like a dog walking on its hind legs. It is not done well, but you are surprised to find it done at all." You might find some Daily Telegraph columnists who still think like that – but not in print. And no matter how odd some of us look in our picture bylines, Dr Johnson was positively bizarre. Continue reading Dr Samuel Johnson: 300th Anniversary of his birth this week

Ancient Greece: The Oracle at Delphi

A10 oracleatdelphi See an illustrative video clip here THE ORACLE AT DELPHI
The Greeks consulted the Oracle at Delphi in fear, hoping for reassurance that they would be saved.  The priestess of the Oracle at Delphi was known as the Pythia.  The god Apollo spoke through this Oracle, who had to be an older woman of blameless life chosen from among the peasants .  
 
The Oracle was considered infallible in prophesying the future, but the message this time was not encouraging. The battle "would bring death to women’s sons"  said the Oracle.  Only "the wooden wall" would save the Athenians.  The maddeningly enigmatic nature of this verdict created panic amongst the Greeks as the Persians rampaged across Greece, burning, looting and laying waste.
 
Only Themistocles stayed calm.  He argued that the "wooden wall" signified the wooden sides of the fleet of triremes and the Athenians should abandon their homes and wait for deliverance at the forthcoming sea battle at Salamis.  This seemed a perilous course and one that demanded a sacrifice from every citizen.  They would have to abandon their homes to the enemy.
 
It was a terrifying situation.  The Persian fleet was three times the size of the Greek fleet of triremes, (1,200 Persian warships against 450 triremes) and their land force was gigantic.  However, Themistocles had laid his trap carefully and the Athenians trusted him.  Bravely they abandoned their homes.
 
The Greek navy lay in wait near the mouth of the Salamis channel.  As bait, Themistocles pretended to be a traitor and fed false intelligence to the Persian commanders, who believed it and immediately sent their warships into the Salamis channel.  It was the perfect place for an ambush. When the ungainly Persian warships entered the channel, they were annihilated by the Greek triremes, and suffered a horrible defeat.  The Persians lost 200 ships, their navy was broken and the safety of their commander was in doubt. Against the odds, the Greeks had won a stunning victory.
 

The Power of the Euro-parliament and Brussels

There is a pitiful comparison with Westminster ...the laws of this country are no longer determined by Parliament at Westminster
euro-parliamentComment from Boris:  "Cor, I thought. This is what it must be like to be in one of those films. You nod off for 10 minutes and you wake up in 200 years' time. We had just pitched up at the Gare du Midi in Brussels and the transformation was incredible. It was 20 years ago that this paper despatched me to the Belgian capital to be its Common Market Correspondent, and in those days the Gare du Midi was a wonderfully dingy place with feral cats and trod-on chips and Turkish taxi drivers snoozing in their battered Mercs and trains departing slowly for First World War destinations like Poperinge. "Now the future had arrived. A vast space-age Eurostar terminal loured over the ancient quartier, and as we headed into the heart of Euroville I couldn't believe my eyes. Poor old Brussels took a terrible pasting in the Fifties, when ruthless British developers moved in and razed so many lovely maisons de maître, whacking up anonymous office blocks in their place. That was nothing to the destruction now taking place in the name of Europe." Continue reading The Power of the Euro-parliament and Brussels

Stanley Johnson Quiz – Windsor Festival 2009

MANY CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR FANTASTIC WINNER!  Well done Wayne from Hertford for his brilliant entry - here are the answers in full: ANSWERS TO STANLEY JOHNSON & FAMILY QUIZ  Stanley and Boris1) What is Stanley Johnson’s greatest political achievement? A. He was MEP for the Isle of Wight. 2) What is the name and nationality of Stanley’s grandfather? A.  Ali Kemal Bey, Turkish journalist. 3) When asked what was the source of the Johnson family’s sense of humour, what did Stanley reply?   A. b) Their blond hair. 4) What long established tradition was Rachel Johnson responsible for abolishing when she was at Ashdown School? A.  Corporal punishment.  Rachel was discovered having a midnight feast and was given the option of losing two half holidays or being beaten.  She chose the beating. The Head, realising he could not beat a girl, abolished the punishment for the whole school. 5)  From this list of famous people:  Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, Benjamin Disraeli, William Wilberforce and Pericles, select the hero of : a) Stanley Johnson b) Boris Johnson. A. Stanley’s hero is Winston Churchill.  Boris’s hero is Pericles. 6) What sport do Stanley and Boris play together? A. Squash. (They also play tennis). 7)  What literary award did Rachel Johnson win? A. The annual Literary Review’s Bad Sex in Fiction Award for Shire Hell .  See the report here . 8)  From this list of famous films, select the favourite of (a) Stanley and (b) Boris. A. (a) Stanley’s favourite film is “Chariots of Fire”.  (b) Boris’s favourite film is “Jaws” and this has given rise to one of his most hilarious jokes.  When first running for Mayor of London, Boris declared that another of his heroes was the Mayor of Amity. 9)  Stanley Johnson has always firmly believed in the value of a classical education.   Could you therefore give an example of praeteritio, using Boris Johnson’s speeches on the website http://www.boris-johnson.com/ as evidence. A.  "...Praeteritio is a common tool of persuasive speech. A skilled practitioner can ruin an opponent's reputation while seeming reluctant to do so..."  Praeteritio is a form of irony.   It means saying one thing, but meaning another. A fuller explanation of the term is given in the link below. http://www.tocquevillian.com/articles/0008.html Articles by Boris that make use of praeteritio are “MPs’ expenses” “Ayatollah Khomeini” and “Simon Heffer” amongst others.   10) How did Boris Johnson come to be called Boris? A. Boris is named after Boris Litwin, a White Russian whom Stanley and Charlotte Johnson met in Mexico City.  Boris Litwin gave the Johnsons two first class tickets to New York, so that Charlotte,  who was 8 months pregnant, could avoid a long and uncomfortable bus journey.  In gratitude, Stanley named his first born Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. *You can meet Stanley Johnson at the Windsor Festival on Friday 2nd October when he is giving a talk and signing books* To leave a message, click here.