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London’s been treating me quite well so far. I find it so exciting to be living here for three weeks. Just the fact that London’s population is as big as whole Austria’s may be a bit off-putting. Think about that. Tiny Austria compared to London. Hilarious.

There are quite some things I have noticed and realised they seem to be pretty British. (Correct me if I’m wrong, please.)

Numero 1: The English weather. Ok, this is topic of a long discussion, but seriously, the weather is making me crazy. I always was aware of the fact that English weather is a bit eccentric, and probably 356 out of 357 people will associate England with “tremendous weather” when you ask them about one typical English thing.

But it’s not what you think it is when you hear “bad weather”. It’s not rain all day long. It’s not grey sky all day long. It’s not cold. Imagine it like this: You look out of the window and think about what you should wear. Bright sunshine, hot weather, blue sky. Looks like perfect conditions for wearing a dress with some sandals, doesn’t it? Ok. Alright. In 89 % of the cases the rain will start as soon as you leave the house, in 11 % it will start about 10 minutes after you left the house so that you can’t even go back and change your clothes. Or like that: The sun is shining, you take off your cardigan and think, “ohh, it’s so hot here, what a nice weather, I thought it’s always foul weather in England!” and you don’t have to wait long – here comes the raaaain – too-toooo!

Number 2: Unless you don’t pronounce your words very clear and with a British accent, you’re very likely to be misunderstood.

So this one day I was buying some food at the supermarket and asked for lemon grass. Doesn’t sound like a difficult thing, does it? “Excuse me, do you have lemon grass?” “Hmm, let me check. I’ll be right back.” The guy walks away, I follow him, listen to a short conversation between him and another staff member and realise he understood that I was looking for lemon cress. “Do you mean lemon cress or lemon graaaaaaaahhhs?” I couldn’t help it but reply, with the best British accent I could, “Oh, lemon graaaaaahs of course!” (they didn’t have any.)

Numéro 3: Why has there to be a glass wall in the post office between the customer and the person behind the counter?

I don’t bite, seriously. What’s that? A glass wall when you want to send a big package? Very impractical. This post office story was one of those embarrassing things you find funny afterwards.

I had something to send to Austria. Nothing special. A package of tea and some other small things. I went to the post office and the first thing I had a problem with was to find the right packaging. That took me about 15 minutes (and I’m not exaggerating!) The first package I wanted to go for was a cardboard box.

After managing to find out how to “construct” the box, I realised that it was way too big. I could have put three times as much in there. So let’s put the box back and go for an envelope with bubble wrap then. Oh, too small. Ok, so the card board box is the only option. I put the things in there, close the box and realise that I’m a bit stupid. Newspaper. I would have needed to put some newspaper in it. Everything would fly around otherways. Too late. I finally am ready to go to the counter to send it. I tell the guy behind the counter that I was a bit concerned about the content flying around. “You should have chosen the small envelope!”, he said. “Well, I thought it’s too small.” “Haven’t you put some newspaper inside? “No, I forgot…”, I admitted, ashamed. He suggested opening the package and putting some inside. Puhh. The package ended up looking like some kids played around with it, but at least the content was safe.

Then this glass wall was really beginning to bother me. The guy kept on giving me some stickers to stick on the package and I always held the package to the wall, thinking that he would stick them on it through the slot. When the procedure was finished, he looked at me, and said, with a big grin on his face: “Have you never been to a post office before?”

Being creative and drawing postcards! I’m not a drawing talent at all, but I have to say that I fell in love with my postcards. Can I please keep them?

Nummer 4: Online Shopping is as popular as wearing skinny jeans.

I was sitting with my aunt and having a chat, late in the evening, when we somehow came to the topic of going to the supermarket. I told her that I absolutely wanted to go and do some proper grocery shopping while I’m here. (I love English supermarkets, don’t ask me why.) She then told me that lately she buys her groceries on the internet most of the time. Pardon? You’re buying your groceries on the internet? You’re not an old lady that can’t go out of the house and needs someone to deliver the shopping right into the house, are you? Her answer was that it’s so practical. Alright, alright.

When I then was visiting a friend of mine in Cambridge last day, he told me with enthusiasm about this online grocery shopping thing. I broke out in thunderous laughter. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Did a young person in their mid-twenties just tell me that they bought food online? Apparently they did. With the explanation that when you haven’t got a car, it’s much easier to let someone bring you the food right into your flat. Sounds reasonable. But still, I find it utterly amusing. It reminds me of an old lady. I can’t help it.

After our delivery we finally have some food in our fridge again.

And so tonight I decided I’m going to cook for my family. As this recipe has been on my blog waiting list (in my brain) for quite a while, I thought that now was the time to share it with you. I didn’t take my camera with me (which was a very big mistake), so I had to use my phone.

This is one of the disadvantages of online food shopping. We ordered small aubergines and they were really really really small. Baby aubergines, in fact.

Serves 4

for the rice
  • 300 g basmati rice (*Reyhani)
  • salt
  • 1 pinch of saffron

for the khoresh

  • 2 onions
  • 2 – 3 aubergines
  • olive oil
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 handful cherry tomatoes
  • 800 g canned, chopped tomatoes (26 oz)
  • juice of half a lemon
  • salt

Rinse the rice in a sieve until the water is clear. Soak it in a bowl with cold water.

Chop the onions. Depending on their size, halve or quarter the aubergines and cut the green part away. In a large pan, heat some oil and fry the aubergines until the start to colour and get soft. Take out of the pan and set aside.

In the same pan, fry the onions and add some oil if necessary. Add turmeric and cinnamon and fry for about 5 minutes, until the onions start to colour. Now add the cherry tomatoes and fry for another 5 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes, lemon juice, some more cinnamon and some salt. Turn to medium-low heat and cook for about an hour.

Meanwhile prepare the rice. Place a pot with water on the fire and bring to a boil. Put the rice and 2 tbsp. of salt in it and cook for 6 minutes on medium-high heat. In a mortar, grind the saffron and add some warm water to dissolve it. Drain the rice and put some olive oil in the pan, so that the bottom of the pan is covered with oil. Add the rice, pour the saffron water over it, cover and cook on low heat for about 30 minutes.

Serve with Mast o chiar or Borani (recipe to be published soon!)

Enjoy.