"Hurry up and take the picture so I can eat my bánh mì."

“Hurry up and take the picture so I can eat my bánh mì.”

I came across this list of the world’s 50 best restaurants yesterday and quickly skimmed it for London establishments, reasoning with myself that it would be good fun to splurge on a blowout meal before we leave. And then I remembered that I hate expensive food. And pretentious food. And miniscule portions. And meals that I have to dress up for. Any one of those on their own might be tolerable but together they make an insufferable combination that I’d rather not fork over a wad of cash to experience.

Here’s what I do like: Potlucks. Meals made and served with love and hospitality in other people’s homes. Meals made and served in the same way in my own home. Picnics. Barbecues. Eating with Allan and going halfsies on everything. The family-run restaurant down the street with the chatty proprietor where for £5 per person we can get a starter like fried calamari or butternut squash and carrot soup, and a main like seafood risotto or tomato basil gnocchi (plus a selection of breads). And, as demonstrated by Allan in the picture, chargrilled pork bánh mi, a veritable London lunchtime steal at £4 per (but still pricey by Toronto standards where I think my favourite ones retail for only $1.50).

There’s a small Vietnamese place across the road from our church and in the past few weeks we’ve gotten into the habit of picking up a couple of them for Sunday lunch. Allan has become something of a fanatic, pining for them on most weekdays until he gets to eat one again after church. At the moment we’re in a disagreement over whether those Sunday bánh mìs are tastier than the ones I picked up at another joint today (exhibit above). We’ve decided on a bánh mì taste-test (a bánh mì-off?) sometime next week, which I will try very hard to make double-blind. Will report back on the results!