I was recently in London for a conference, but wanted to take a closer look into tea culture while I was there. I have always loved tea, and I have fond memories of drinking tons of it with my grandmother when I was younger. I rented a beautiful little London flat/loft in the Notting Hill neighborhood. This was the perfect location, because I was right around the corner from the famous Portobello Market. Therefore I started my research on tea in the market, surrounded by old teapots, silver strainers, teacups and various antiques.
Check out this brief 3C webisode about tea culture in London…
This particular webisode is entitle 3C because it is shorter than the normal Community Culture and Cuisine webisodes. 3C webisodes will not necessarily dive as deep into all three categories (community, culture and cuisine).
We had a lot of fun filming this episode, despite the cold and the wind that morning. Typical of London weather. I was so happy when I saw that we could actually spend a little time inside, where it was warmer, in the arcades. The next time I’m in London, I will most certainly be stopping by the market! I love antique/ estate jewelry and they have some fun vintage records.
The Tea House
When we made our way over to The Tea House in London. I was shocked to see how busy it was right after opening its doors that morning. It is located on a very quaint pedestrian street, that is lined with great shops. The shop opened 30 years ago and is still family run. Katharine Smith, the current owner was so kind to show me all around and let us film, even though it was busy. Its amazing how much they can fit in that in that shop! Andrew Broadstock taught me some interesting stuff about the history of tea. I also loved the old scale he used to measure out some of my loose leaf tea.
Needless to say, I left The Tea House a very happy camper!
After leaving London, I headed to Paris with 3 of my girlfriends to show them my old city. When we first arrived, I wanted to take them to one of my favorite quartiers (neighborhoods)…Saint Germain. This area is loaded with great restaurants, bars, shops and movie theaters. We ended up meeting with a few of my friends I went to school with in Paris and had a great dinner at one of my favorite spots, Le Pub Saint-Germain. My American friends got to probe my French friends about life in France. And what a great way to connect with life in Paris?!?!
Mes amis française (my French friends).
As we walked back after dinner, I showed the girls where you could rent bikes in the neighborhood. I loved renting bikes on the street of Paris, after the subways closed, it was the perfect way to get home. I would ride my bike from Saint-Germain, crossing in front of the la Tour Eiffel, cross the Seine, to arrive at my tiny studio in the 16eme arrondissement.
Showing my girlfriends around Saint-Germain was the perfect opener, before we hit all the tourist spots: Eiffel Tower, Champs-Élysées, Louvre Museum, Sacré–Coeur etc.
After running around the beautiful city of Paris and being blown away by all of the amazing architecture, it was time for the true French experience. So I took them to Lille to meet my French host family.
A piece of my heart will always be in France, especially Lille. I visited France twice before I went to live there at the age of 18. This was when I truly became immersed in the culture. I learned to enjoy eating meals in courses with family and friends, cheese after a meal, and how to break baguette with others, leaving crumbs all over the table. I went to pastry school, where I learned how to make croissants and other French pastries. My host father Philippe made me appreciate a good vinaigrette, he is the king of amazing vinaigrettes. And my host mother, Martine, oh Martine…and amazing cook! She taught me the pure joy of simple French dishes like quiche Lorraine, cauliflower gratin, stuffed tomatoes and leeks wrapped in ham, covered in béchamel sauce and cheese and baked to perfection. It was at this point of my life, when I truly fell in love with France, its food and dining! I already loved food and new I wanted to cook before Lille, but this whole experience took my love for food to the next level.
So of course I had to share that with my friends! What did we do in Lille? Eat! And eat everything in sight! Thank God we walked a lot, so it all pretty much balanced out in the end. We walked right around the corner to where I did my first ever, stage (internship) at Fonseca Bakery.
We walked the streets of Vieux Lille, this is the oldest neighborhood in Lille. There was a farmers market. Farmers gave us fruit to try, we also sampled cheese and bought a roasted chicken!
Lunches and dinners at the house were always the highlight. Good wine, good food and great company. We sat at the table for a few hours and enjoyed each others’s company, shared new stories and plenty of laughs. I did a fair amount of translating but Martine speaks great English. I loved being able to share a true French community, culture and cuisine with my friends. I can’t wait for anther round, next time we will have try try out another country.
Me and Philippe (I’m clearly feeling at home, look at my hair. Haha)
Martine and Lou (her granddaughter)
The dinner table
Photography by Kerri Lynne Photography. Thanks for all of your lovely photos!
Thanks to Carl Jones-Schropshire for producing 3C in Lodon. To learn more about his company check out http://www.cultureofcreativity.com.