Walking through the streets of Rome – looking for somewhere to eat during the day, Mum would always offer a preference to sit down; because it would be easier for Lauren.
As I perched myself on a stone bench today, in Leeds; fighting with Lauren over the scraps of fish left on the tray – I wondered what I might have missed out on in Rome, by limiting where, and how we eat.
Sat in shabby tourist traps, with broken toilet seats and extortionately priced soft drinks, I would see countless smartly-dressed office types – pounding the streets with something that could be eaten, single-handed.
Pizza slices, focaccia; even a man and a woman sat on a wall, with a hunk of bread and a wrap of salami – tearing bits off to eat as they sat chatting, animatedly – against the backdrop of the Pantheon. It certainly made the sandwich and back street we dined in, look positively repulsive in comparison.
It also makes the street food experience I “enjoy”, seem positively barbaric.
That experience, if you can call it that, usually involves a plastic wrapped sandwich, a bag of crisps and a drink – eaten from shop to office; on the move – with haste. Distance covered leaves little time for an actual lunch hour. No actual time to enjoy the food; only time to eat.
There are a couple of opportunities in Leeds to get street food. Fish& is somewhere I’ve raved about for ages now. It produces, arguably, the best fish and chips you can get – well, that I get, anywhere. It is made in a hut, on a street, thus qualifying as street food. But in comparison with the many travelogue food programmes you see of stalls, on street corners, in underprivileged areas – it is small fry – if you’ll pardon the pun.
Even London seems to have caught the wave of simple food, served quickly and accessibly with the arrival of Eat.St between Kings Cross and St Pancras station. It’s not often that I’m jealous of my original home city; age diminishes the desire to run about like I once did. But it would be good to have the variety on offer there, here in Leeds.
I definitely missed out when in Rome. I missed out on porchetta, on pizza by the slice – on an animated conversation in a classical setting. Lauren wouldn’t have minded being perched on a wall – on a knee – digging at the food Amy and I would buy.
But, well – when you can read an excuse for what it is, sometimes it’s better to just sit down, and go against your own flow.
Come on Leeds – more variety, less plastic wrapped sandwiches.