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The other night I went to a Sri Lankan restaurant working in london (Paradise – not my review, the name). You will find eaten greater than my fair share of Sri Lankan food, we were young with a mum who is not just the Thierry Henry of Sri Lankan cooking, but additionally sees a fat son as the easiest way of marketing her brand.
Sri Lankan food is nothing can beat Indian: it really is hotter, drier, has a different array of flavours, and distinct staples, like hoppers (a bowl-shaped crispy pancake created from fermented rice flour) and coconut sambol (coconut made physically addictive). It hasn’t been delivered to the heart of British culture in the same way Indian food has. Many people seem not to realise that they are different cuisines. Among my first standup routines was about the frustrations of going to an Indian restaurant with white friends and being requested recommendations in regards to a cuisine I had fashioned no more knowledge of than they did. (The punchline was: “Why don’t you show me what you learn about tortellini, you prick” – sophisticated stuff. )
I had also eaten at a great deal of Sri Lankan restaurants, mainly with mother and father. But these have already been aimed at Sri Lankans. These are filled with tables that look as if these were stolen from the garden centre, and the vibe is very “school canteen”. You decide to go in, order food from the guy who makes you feel like you have insulted his family, then a while later you might be delivered probably the most beautifully authentic Sri Lankan cuisine for any measly price. I love these places.
At Paradise, nevertheless, I was confronted with a new experience. The dishes were all things I possess eaten with the bucketload throughout my life, albeit with a contemporary twist, and am felt proud to see them being enjoyed by almost exclusively non-Sri Lankans in a really trendy-looking venue.
It wasn’t all pie-eyed euphoria, though. I have to confess I discover the trend of walk-in-only restaurants extremely hostile to the greedier diner. While i eat out, I like to understand what time we will be seated so I can push my hunger to its limit. I can only do this with close friends and family, because me eating when very hungry is among the great visual atrocities from the modern age.
Easily am with individuals outside the inner circle, I normally eat before I get there. This way, I am less grabby once the food arrives, and people leave thinking I’m a polite, elegant diner, while in reality I am a greedy bastard who is tucking into his second dinner. When I are able to a restaurant and they show me a table will be ready in 40 minutes, it’s as much as I could do not to lock the doorway, declare another diners hostage, and make my first demand the immediate delivery of an aubergine curry. In fairness to Paradise, someone said it would be a 20-minute wait, but at that time I’d already loaded my gun.
I put to tell my mum about my discovery. I thought she might be enthusiastic about the prospect of top-quality Sri Lankan scran being served to the trendies of Soho. Later that day, she popped round to say that she had looked at the menu, and yes it didn’t look that great. She also warned me that aubergine curry can be very unhealthy, due to the frying, oblivious to the fact that she makes tankers of it for me personally. I realised then which i had made a fundamental error. I promised to take her soon, which time I am going to remember to let her know that, as the food is nice, it’s not anywhere near just like she can make it.