Eating Out

A full stop in Sussex

Lisa Hilton is influenced by a Booker Prize shortlisted novel as she samples gastropub grub

[dropcap]S[/dropcap]o you know there’s no Marks and Spencers in Lewes, so the gastropub, gastrodome, gastroenteritis, always full at Firle, so Rodmell, Vanessa Bell, pell mell, Pall Mall, Fortnum’s iced fancies, I fancy lunch, so not grilled mutton kidneys, “food, chyle, blood, dung, earth food”, so you know, the Juggs in Kingston, Toby jug, in jug, prison, no wrapping paper, winding sheet, shroud, the hungry sinner, Byron, sinner, winner, burger, Cheddar cheese and bacon burger, surf ’n’turf burger, spicy prawn with peanut sauce and tamarind relish, polyrhythmic salad on the side, so you know marinade, Marinetti, the car more beautiful than the Winged Victory of Samothrace or was it the bicycle? so Greece, the Lestrygonians, Ionians, Iona, isosceles, which island? Ithaca; they were cannibals, so not on Thames, East Sussex, high chalk, Ouse beckoning, “it is part of the novelist’s convention not to mention soup and salmon and ducklings”, but you know soup, ten times at least in To the Lighthouse, so roasted Padrón peppers with almonds, traditional cod and chips, they come in two sizes but who would want a small cod and chips? manifesto put-it-to-the-testo Sultans of Ping where’s my jumper?

Cheddar cheese and tomato chutney sandwich, have a pie, something solid, suet crust, sweet onion, sweet as a nut, sweet as pie, so you know ale gravy

Monk’s House, monastery, abbey, Thomas Cromwell, Anne Boleyn, the old woman said she saw her at the marmalade cupboard by night, fly-by-night, with Smeaton the lutenist, I always believed that because you wouldn’t make up the marmalade, so chilly, those poor artistic children running round naked, Le Figaro, figaro figaro, 1909 so you know not 16th June 1904, gorgonzola and mustard, keen as, Cheddar cheese and tomato chutney sandwich, have a pie, something solid, suet crust, sweet onion, sweet as a nut, sweet as pie, so you know ale gravy, Shepherd Neame batter on traditional cod and chips, a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction but also a cook and a maid and someone to make the beds and they didn’t write much fiction at all, so Waterstones, Daunts, W.H. Smith, that nice one in Henley but that’s the Thames, Ratty’s picnic, potted meat, excellent gravy so you know disappointing when it’s just the puff kind on top and nothing round the sides, so pie crust, collar, Lady Di, Peter Pan collar, you have to give them up after forty in France but there it’s a Claudine, so that woman who wrote the book telling you how to be sexy after forty, Virginia, Virginia Water, Elizabeth the First, potatoes, so chips, excellent tartare sauce, steak tartar, the Tartars, cream of tartar, it was under their saddles to tenderise the meat, so who cleaned the saddles? Nelly, that was the Rodmell cook’s name, was it, or Peggy? they used to give the housemaids the same name so they wouldn’t have to bother telling them apart but the maids in Downton Abbey had individual names, abbey, shabby, crabby, dressed crab, God made food, the devil made cooks, pizza alla diavola, they haven’t got that, it’s not right when pubs serve pizza, spicy though the tamarind, tamarin monkey, golden marmoset, Regent’s Park, giraffes stalking, sunset over Primrose Hill, golden baked vanilla cheesecake with mulled fruit compote, mulled wine, mull it over, Isle of Mull, Iona, Orkneys, Hebrides, so hybrid, so you know no vanilla in the crème brûlée recipe in The Bloomsbury Cookbook, bland I should say, soothing maybe, all that fornication, copulation they called it but single beds at Charleston, Charleston Literary Festival, Charles river, Boston Cream Pie,

So you know dark and white chocolate bread and butter pudding, pillowy with spring, hanging baskets outside, low dark beams, diabolical roses, deep fried in bloom

so you know single sex, single supplement, did they fall out, John Maynard Keynes and his ballet dancer, but I suppose she was stretchy, so Pilates, yoga, barre burn, feel the burn, so you know dark and white chocolate bread and butter pudding, pillowy with spring, hanging baskets outside, low dark beams, diabolical roses, deep fried in bloom, Leopold Bloom, King Leopold of Belgium so mussels and chips and mayonnaise, no need to worry about it splitting if you don’t have your period, old wives’ tale, old wife, trouble and strife so all that swapping in the single beds, but you know those Bloomsbury teeth, so Crest, Oral B, Euthymol, pink, you don’t see that so much anymore no Boots in Lewes but they do have Waitrose, John Lewis, standing there like one of Lewis’s, the electricity’s gone so they can’t do the bill, why can’t they just add it up on a piece of paper, but they’re cashless, so everyone’s in the dark, nice about it though, a real village pub, public house public convenience public service announcement public car park, open to the public, buy a National Trust tea towel, so that’s a sign of something, or you could just paint the furniture yourself, so you know all up a hanging basket.

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