The Same Place, Everywhere

The last time I moved outside the US, my destination was Toronto. Having received a scholarship to attend a doctoral program at York University, despite family concerns about the location (“Joel, do you have any idea how boring Ontario is?”, or “If you’re going to move to such a WASP place, why not England?”) I made the jump. If a university offers you full support, you take it. Canada’s largest city, while a great deal colder than Berkeley, had its own advantages, the most important of which, in my opinion, remains its food.

I finally moved to the United Kingdom fourteen years later. And, when I did, I moved to a neighborhood that, upon much reflection, has offered me many of the same things that I loved most about Toronto. If I could single anything out specifically, it is again the food. Nowhere in San Francisco can one get a good roti, not even in its original Indian form. Though you might find it served at a Malaysian restaurant like the Straits Cafe as an appetizer, nowhere will you find it stuffed with mutton, or a good potato curry, like London.

Don’t even get me started on the Moroccan restaurant cart to the right of this picturesque, vintage-looking trailer. I haven’t eaten there yet. However, every time I pass it by, the only thing I can see is the word MERGUEZ plastered above the grill. I’m not sure whether it’s the size of the font, or the fact that the menu item is summoning me there. Nevermind the oversized copper samovar, or the ravenous, Berber-looking men sitting in front, silently devouring their lunch.