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Published: June 18th 2016
Food, glorious food
What is there more handsome?
Gulped, swallowed or chewed,
Still worth a King’s Ransom!
What is it we dream about?
What brings on a sigh?
Piled peaches and cream about-
Six feet high! Food, Glorious Food, from the musical Oliver, lyrics by Lionel Bart
I thought I had seen the most beautiful and perfectly laid out food when I wandered through Borough Market. And then I went to Harrods.
You may remember the name from the time of Princess Diana’s death. When she died in 1997, she was dating Dodi Fayed, the son of Mohamed Al-Fayed, who was then the owner of Harrods. Mr. Al-Fayed has since sold the store to the Qatar Investment Authority, but the memorial he put up to his son and Princess Diana is still on display in the store.
Harrods is a very high end department store in the tony Knightsbridge borough of London. To put that in perspective, Harrods has a dress code just to enter the store (though it seems to be a pretty loose one) and Prince William and Princess Kate live just up street.
The store even has a section called “The Room of Luxury” and the fine jewelry department has several walled off rooms guarded by very large men in impeccably tailored suits.
But the Food Halls – oh, my! Nestled between Fine Jewelry and the Perfumery, the Food Halls are home to some exquisite food offerings. One of the halls has its own oyster bar that seems to be rather popular, and there is a whole section devoted to caviar. There are display cases of dried fruit with fourteen – fourteen! – varieties of dates on display, and the entire length of one of the halls is given over to decadent displays of high end chocolates, including Jordan almonds coat in edible gold.
I walked around in awe, wondering if people would think I was strange if I fondled the fruit. In addition to the above mentioned fine chocolates, they also offered packaged candies, one of which was milk chocolate made with camel’s milk. Sounds intriguing, but at GBP39.95 (about US$ 57) for 200 grams I gave it a pass. I did, however, pick up a bar of Harrods dark chocolate, a comparative steal for GBP3.95.
But let’s not forget the Wagyu beef (at GBP600 a kilo,) the truffles, pork belly, pheasant, English and French and Spanish cheeses, and if you don’t feel like cooking, there are prepared curries, meat pies, even appetizers and sandwiches. And it wouldn’t be a balanced diet without veggies, spices, and freshly baked bread.
While not quite as lavish as Harrods, Fortnum and Mason is another high end department store that more than holds its own in the food department, to the point where they hold a Royal Warrant from Queen Elizabeth. Fortnum and Mason is renowned for their food hampers, so much so that they are even sold at Heathrow International, stuffed with food, for those who don’t fancy airplane food.
A lot of people think English food is pretty uninspired. To those folks I say, “Get thee to Harrods as quickly as possible!”
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