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YESTERDAY IN PART 1, HENRY N. MANNEY III offered general guidance about gustative matters in Europe. Today in Part 2, he gives country-by-country assessments, many of them still valid after 60 years.
England. Henry said, “The safest way to eat in England, especially London, is still to search out some likely Italian or Chinese restaurant, but there are some English ones like Wheeler’s or Kettner’s which do nice things with the English specialties such as Dover sole or a mixed grill, which are almost always safe.”
I recall being well-connected indeed with a Chinese restaurant not far from the secondhand bookshops of the Charing Cross district.
Henry eschewed pub grub, though my experience is that it’s made a giant leap in 60 years.
Germany. “Whatever else happens, you will get enough to eat in Germany. The accent is on potatoes. Wursts of various sorts were all invented here, and breads are really good.”
After three extended paragraphs confirming this, Henry ends with, “Photog Gunther Molter shot me down in flames before for not mentioning the specialities around Stuttgart. His number is 67149, and it serves him right.”
Belgium. Henry lauded “visiting one of the numerous friture fried potato stands. You get a sackful, which can be eaten with tartar sauce, mayonnaise, or several other non-fattening but tasty combinations.”
Yes! I agree wholeheartedly. And, I note, it was years before Henry could praise another European street food: Berlin’s currywurst.
Switzerland. Henry said, “The national dishes seem to be raclette, in which a large melting wheel of Bagne cheese is scraped and poured over boiled potatoes, and fondue, where a pot of melting cheese (Gruyere and vacherin in kirsch, garlic, and white wine inside) has bits of bread dropped in.”
Henry provided protocol as well: “He who drops the first bread buys the next bottle of wine and, if female, gets kissed by all and sundry.”
Though I’ve enjoyed both raclette and fondue in Swiss locales, I cannot speak to modern protocol. None of our parties lost any bread off their dipping forks.
Italy. Henry advised, “The first thing you must get out of your mind is that Italian restaurants in Italy are like the same thing at home. In the mother country, local specialities are featured much more according to the region and the fried sparrow’s toes you had in the Abruzzi, for example, you won’t see anywhere else.”
“In Modena,” Henry wrote, “both Fini and Oreste are good….” I recall R&T Art Director Bill Motta and I finding our way to the Fini by means of my 1913 Baedeker’s Northern Italy.
Tomorrow in Part 3, Henry concludes with Spain, Portugal, and France, together with a word picture of the gustative good life. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2022