Monday, 29 November 2010

London for Food Lovers (Part 1) by Cynthia Clampitt

With thanks to Cynthia Clampitt

Just click on the Title to link to Cynthia’s Food Blog……

England has long been on the cutting edge of culinary consumption. It was in England in 1700 that milk was first added to chocolate. Earlier still, it was England that initiated Europe’s love affair with coffee. Though coffee was being drunk in Muslim countries as early as the 15th century, it was not until a Jewish merchant from Turkey opened a coffee house in Oxford in 1650 that coffee culture really caught hold in Europe. France was next, then Vienna, and soon coffee houses were all over Europe. In England, coffee houses became the gathering places of intellectuals, politicians, and anyone else who liked to talk. One great chain of coffee houses, Kardomah, became a fixture in the high streets of towns throughout the UK. Welsh poet Dylan Thomas and his circle of friends frequented these shops with such regularity that they were known as “the Kardomah boys.” I can remember stopping at a Kardomah coffee house when I first visited London at age 14. They served coffee with amber sugar crystals, rather than plain, white sugar. I was enchanted. Today, though Starbucks has now displaced the majority of the old Kardomah cafés, there is still a lovely coffee culture in England.

Copyright Cynthia Clampitt ©2010
(This originally appeared in a different form in Hungry Magazine.)

1 comment:

  1. November 28, 2010 at 4:11 pm
    Greetings, James. I’m pleased to share my memories of Kardomah. My first trip to London was in 1965, when I was, as noted in the post, 14 years old, though already a lover of coffee for many years. The Kardomah that my family frequented was in Piccadilly, though I believe we found one other during our first stay. The coffee was richer and stronger than that to which I was accustomed, but the cream was also richer, and there were those amber sugar crystals! A return to Kardomah was one of the things to which I looked forward when we returned a couple of years later. Then, as a student living in England in 1972, as we toured the UK, I kept on the lookout for Kardomah coffee shops wherever we went. After all, I was majoring in English literature, so it seemed absolutely necessary to seek out Kardomah. I was disappointed when years later, as an adult, I returned to find the Kardomah shops I had known were closed or replaced. Pity.