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A Nepali dines at the British parliament

A Nepali dines at the British parliament

As I sat down to dine at the British parliament, I looked over a variety of dishes, each proudly symbolizing the best of British culture. From welcoming cocktails to chicken, pork to lamb, accompanied by refreshing locally crafted beer, every item on the menu boasted its origin from within the UK. The chicken hailed from the farms of Norfolk and Suffolk, while the turkey was sourced from Herefordshire. Even the bacon had its roots firmly planted in British soil, coming from pigs raised, slaughtered, and cured by a dedicated group of farmers primarily located in East Anglia and Southern England.

Recently, I had the privilege of visiting the British parliament with a few friends, eagerly anticipating a fine dining experience within its historic halls. Stepping into this esteemed institution, I felt as though a long-held dream had finally come to fruition. As an outsider, I’ve always been fascinated by the inner workings of this pillar of democracy, which serves as a shining example of a nation’s constitution and the embodiment of its laws, rights, and duties.

The visit was a scheduled affair, and the excitement was palpable as we looked forward to immersing ourselves in the heart of British governance. Despite a minor setback due to a colleague’s absence from our dinner reservation, the anticipation of experiencing parliamentary discourse and sampling British cuisine with a modern twist remained undiminished. The menu, though not extensive, catered to various dietary needs, showcasing meticulous engineering that represents the diversity of Great Britain’s culinary landscape.

Upon arrival, the grandeur of the architecture matched the gravity of the discussions within. Witnessing passionate debates among MPs on matters of national significance was both enlightening and inspiring. It served as a testament to the democratic process and the commitment of those entrusted with shaping the nation’s future.

During the visit, Harriet Neuman, a dedicated MP’s personal secretary, offered insight into the intricate rules and protocols governing parliamentary proceedings. Her detailed explanation shed light on the hierarchical structure and the meticulous recording of every aspect of parliamentary business.

Meanwhile, we encountered Captain James Robert Billingham, a retired army officer, who somehow was familiar with my social and charity endeavors. He mentioned that he had been following my efforts to promote food from every corner. In response, I attempted to redirect the conversation, emphasizing that momo, a traditional Nepali dish, represents just one facet of Nepal’s rich and diverse culinary heritage.

I highlighted the vastness and diversity of Nepali cuisine, suggesting that perhaps I should invite him to Nepal so he could witness and experience it firsthand. Upon his return, he could potentially serve as a goodwill ambassador for Nepal, sharing his experiences and promoting the country’s culinary richness.

Following the enriching parliamentary experience, we made our way to dinner, eager to indulge in the culinary delights awaiting us. The menu, a reflection of Britain’s culinary heritage, featured locally sourced, seasonal produce transformed into healthy and delicious dishes. The impeccable service added to the overall dining experience.

Like most foodies on the team, they offered or rather tasked me to order a meal with one condition: food must be shared. I ordered the soup of the day for everyone; it was not mentioned as actual soup – it was curried carrot soup. Curry is part of British culture. While ordering soup, I also heard stories about British heritage carrots. Carrots were introduced to Britain by the Flemings during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and were grown mainly in Kent and Surrey. They were also worn as decoration in ladies’ hats.

I also ordered Char grilled English Asparagus with wild garlic, Severn, and Wye Smoked Salmon with horseradish cream, Prawn cocktail, another classic British dish, Pork belly, and of course Fish and Chips. Fish and Chips is like momo in Nepal. At every corner you will find these and you enjoy them with local craft beer batter. I love the tartar sauce, like our achar. What a lovely system serving a selection of warm bread with British butter. The British system knows how to spoil guests in a simple but very effective way. I also ordered green beans with roasted garlic, cauliflower with cheese, and boulangerie potato as a side, and ordered three desserts to share. I love champagne sorbet. In the end, all the plates were empty; the symbol of good food.

Joined by British, Indian, and Nepali friends, the evening at one of Britain’s most revered landmarks sparked conversations about empowering local youth and fostering economic and social growth. My focus remained on building bridges between my homeland, Nepal, and the UK, as well as the rest of the world, through the universal language of food.

As conversations flowed and laughter filled the air, surrounded by beloved friends and colleagues, the evening became an unforgettable memory. It was a perfect blend of intellectual inspiration and culinary pleasure, showcasing the richness of great British culture and hospitality.

Looking back, my visit to the House of Parliament and the subsequent dinner epitomized British tradition and hospitality. It was a journey that left a lasting impression, underscoring the importance of meaningful discourse and savoring life’s simple pleasures with loved ones.

While I was heading back home in London, a question kept nagging at me: Can the canteen of the Nepali parliament serve food produced in Nepal?

The author is a UK based R&D chef