Studying abroad is a time that all university students look forward to during their four years. Classes aren’t necessarily a top priority; rather students care more about the city’s nightlife, culture and of course — the food. In this series, we ask those who are currently making their friends jealous with awesome Facebook posts to give us some insight about what they’ve been eating. If you plan to study abroad in the same city, perhaps you’ll learn a thing or two
SU: Spoon university
ER: Eric Ruble is a junior studying broadcast and digital journalism currently at City University London.
SU: What dish were you most excited to try? Why? Have you had it yet? Did it live up to your expectations?
ER: I was most excited to try bangers and mash, a traditional English dish of sausages, mashed potatoes and usually some sort of gravy. It has exceeded expectations each time I have ordered it. My favorite is at a cafe right next to the Tate Modern in Southwark called Albion.
SU: Any weird quirks about British cuisine? Weird dishes?
ER: British dishes are rather mundane and palatable to most people. One item I regularly avoid, however, is mushy peas. More of a watery pea puree, they provide a strange texture and taste I’d rather not have smothering my food.
SU: What’s the best dish you’ve eaten there so far?
ER: The best dish I’ve eaten is the croque monsieur at Cafe VQ in Bloomsbury. The restaurant was recommended by chef Gordon Ramsey, and it’s easy to see why. A steal at just £8, the sandwich was perfectly crispy, with a deliciously light béchamel sauce. Dangerous bonus: it’s open 24/7.
SU: Any really great restaurants/cafes you’ve found near your study abroad school?
ER: Other places I like are Monkey and Me (Thai), Wahaca (Mexican), The Breakfast Club, Pizza Pilgrims, and Shutterbug crepes (pictured above). Unfortunately, none of these is really close to City University. However, there is a fantastic market on the walk to campus known as Exmouth Market where you can find anything from German bratwurst to Indian curries.
SU: Where are you living? Do you cook for yourself or do you go to a dining hall or eat out? What’s a typical dinner?
I live in the Clerkenwell neighborhood, which is right on the border of the Islington and Camden boroughs. I try to eat in as much as possible as USC provided us with great accommodations which have a spacious kitchen. However, I typically go out at least three nights a week. A meal at home usually means pasta and sauce or a meat pie (think chicken pot pie with beef — pictured above) that I’ve bought from a local market. Hummus and pita are also regular staples during the day.
SU: What are some main differences you’ve noticed in either the food or dining experience?
ER: The biggest difference I’ve noticed is cost. After living in Tokyo last summer, I am used to pricey food. But the exchange rate (£1 = $1.70) is killing our wallets. It’s really tough to find a meal under £10 when eating out.
ER: I went to Ireland a while back and found things to be similar to England food-wise. I was especially a fan of shepherd’s pie: a ramekin filled with roast lamb and topped with mashed potatoes before being baked. Yum. I did, however, have a rather ghastly hamburger in a small-town pub. In Portugal, the best food I had was at Pastéis de Belem in Lisbon, where they serve the most famous version of a traditional Portuguese egg-custard pastry, Pastel de Nata. So good with cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on top.
SU: Any foods you miss that you can’t get in London?
ER: Chick-fil-a and Panera Bread immediately come to mind. I would do very bad things for a fried chicken sandwich. I’m also a huge fan of Guisado’s tacos in Echo Park. They’re the best I’ve had in L.A. and would really hit the spot right now alongside a tall glass of horchata.
Check out more good stuff from Spoon University here: