London is known for many things: fashion, historic buildings, international business, rainy weather, Harry Potter, and food. I was expecting there to be food, of course, but I was not expecting the food to be an experience. As soon as I landed, a flurry of flavors greeted me.

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I was expecting
there to be food, but
I was not expecting the food to be an experience.

Roads lined with curry shops. Irish pubs on the corners. French bakeries tucked between skyscrapers. I was swept away in waves of lattes and fresh mandarins, papadums and falafels, meat pies and ale. It was a tastebud-celebration.

I am slowly, but surely, eating my way through London, and the food stands as an accurate representation of the diverse cultures that can be found in the city. London is well-known as one of the most diverse cities in the world, but it is one thing to read about it and another to experience it.

An American-style hamburger at Stax Diner in London

A British take on the American hamburger.

Eating is not only about the food, it’s also about the people you share it with. I have had a meal of Bengali curry on Brick Lane with a class of 23. Many of us were trying curry for the first time and we shared the experience together.

I have sat down to an Italian meal of the best gnocchi with a small class of writers in Bloomsbury. We talked about literature and home. We embarrassed ourselves trying to pronounce the words right when ordering in Italian. We laughed, we ate way too much pasta, we bonded.

I met a waiter named Kevin from South America in our local pub. He told us about why he moved to London, the different places he’s lived around the world, and where we can find the best groceries and books in London.

Lattes and toast with jam

Lattes from my favorite local cafe.

I became friends with the baristas at my local cafe and found out that one of them is from Los Angeles and moved to Europe on a whim several years ago. Small world. Another friend is from France but lived in Boston for a short time. He likes Judge Judy. The last is from Egypt and has a talent for making the best lattes. Trust me, the best.

Meals have also brought me closer with the other students in the house. Some from Arcadia FYSAE, some from Villanova. Many nights have been spent in the kitchens burning chicken, washing copious amounts of dishes, laughing hysterically as we stayed up past 2 a.m. perfecting the art of stir-fry, and making memories that will last a lifetime.

Food isn’t just calories. It’s culture, it’s learning, and it’s friends. The ultimate nourishment.