A strange thing has happened.
I have come back from England without having taken a single picture of food.
That doesn't mean that I forgot about food for a few days while riding the tops of double-decker buses with Sam. Far from it. During this trip I made it my mission to introduce him to the things I love best in England: mint Aero, Fry's Peppermint Cream (do you detect a theme here?) and, perhaps best of all, the Crunchie bar*.
I couldn't leave without trying a Wispa, which is making a comeback in England. This airy chocolate bar with a milk chocolate coating was new to me, and I have to say I found it unpalateably sweet (yes, even compared to Crunchie bars).
While not gorging on chocolate, I filled up on food television. I saw Jamie Oliver on screen for the first time in my life - he was mellower than I expected, lying down next to his vegetable patch and plucking out the seedlings - and memorized his recipe for carrot salad with spiced lamb (stay tuned). I caught every minute of Saturday Kitchen and watched Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares in horrified fascination.
During my two days in London, I had to limit myself to what was fast and practical with a child. That meant Prêt à Manger and Wagamama, but also a restaurant called Hummus Bros specialising in bowls of the smooth chick pea purée with meat or vegetable toppings - a brilliant idea that shows how diverse the fast(er) food offerings have become in London.
I also made it to Books for Cooks - foolishly the first time, as it was Monday and the shop was closed. To fit it in on the second day I had to take a taxi there, which cost more than the Sushi book I bought. My only other purchase, in a moment of uncharacteristic restraint, was Simple Indian by Atul Kochhar, chef of the Michelin-starred Benares restaurant. I had seen him on Saturday Kitchen and liked the way he put a contemporary spin on Indian recipes.
If I'd been less traumatized by London prices and had more space in my suitcase, these are the other books I would have bought:Crust by Richard Bertinet - I know I already have some good bread books, but I would buy this book for his baguette recipes alone.
Beaneaters and Bread Soup by Lori de Mori - My kind of cookbook, a series of essays with recipes on food producers in Tuscany.
Arabesque by Claudia Roden - The most recent cookbook by Britain's doyenne of Middle Eastern cooking.
New Flavours of the Lebanese Table by Nada Saleh - Written by a resident cook at Books for Cooks.
What would be on your cookbook wish list?
* In case you're wondering, Sam isn't normally allowed a chocolate bar every day. We were on holiday, after all!