Explosions and Eels

Fireworks over Southwark BridgeThis must be what it’s like to live in a war zone. Since the sunset there has been a constant barrage of explosions lighting up the night sky and sending shockwaves reverberating between buildings. Welcome to London on Guy Fawkes Day – the zaniest holiday ever conceived. 400 years ago (to the day) a bunch of Catholics tried to blow up the British Parliament building with 40 barrels of gunpowder, were caught the night before, tortured and executed, and then had a holiday named after them. And now every year, Brits have bonfires, burn effigies of Guy Fawkes, and set of loads of fireworks.

There were like 20 fireworks displays throughout London last night and another 30 or so today. I went to a local one in Brockwell Park last night and a big one on the River Thames tonight. They were amazing. A lot more bang than you would get in a show in Winnipeg. And in addition to the official shows, people have been setting off backyard fireworks displays, so between 6 pm and 12 pm there was barely a pause in explosions. It’s like Baghdad, but with less death (and more lost limbs).

Jellied EelMy waking hours have been spent hitting the markets yet again. Food shopping in Covent Garden this morning, and window shopping in Camden Town (yet again) this afternoon with Adam and Ellen. Although it was my fourth trip to Camden Town, I did find something new to try. Supposedly jellied eels are a British delicacy, and Adam had heard a restaurant famous for jellied eels was in Camden Town. What we found was a nondescript diner specializing in “pies, mash, and eel” with a queue out the door. The eels were nasty – like something out of Fear Factor. It was really salty, the eel had some crunchy bits (bone?), and the jelly made it taste even slimier than eel should be. I managed to eat a full piece before I wanted to gag (better than anyone else). But now that I’ve conquered eel, I should have no problem with haggis.

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