The cabbie transporting me from Heathrow to St James Street offered me his Statue of Liberty Zippo and asked me if I knew where the name Cheswick was derived from. I had been pestering him with all kinds of questions (is it truly no-smoking all over, do you like Jose Mourinho, how long have u been driving etc) and Cheswick was the nice suburb we were passing at the moment. I was duly silenced as he explained how “wick” is an old English word for market. Cheswick, hence, was the cheese market. Gatwick should be easy for you intelligent reader. And the wicker basket makes so much sense now.
I had a series of meetings (read interviews-the British are so polite) with some very intelligent people and needed to smoke in between. The only choice was to walk up and down a definitely chilly street, passing similar sad souls. I did. On my way out to the hotel to check out I noticed the Chequers Tavern right next door. And praise be the lord, there was a bench with a solitary occupant who had a Guiness in one hand AND a cigarette in the other. I soon joined him and smoked nearly half a pack in 30 minutes.
The flight back was cold-turkey free. The Duck, however happened as my dear psychiatrist pal and wife were passing though Mumbai on their way to Tanganyika. Or was it Tanzania. We met up at the Taj Land’s End, downed a few single malts and frozen M’s. And made our way to the marvelous Chinese restaurant. We ordered the P Duck as we walked in. And added some ribs as starters and a crab to ensure we didn’t go hungry.
Waltzed in the ribs which we ate with gusto and plum sauce. Then came a basket (plain vanilla, not wicker) full of thin pancakes accompanied by a plate of sliced veggies and a plate of yummy brown looking thin slices of duck. We ate silently and purposefully. We were wondering if we had overdone the crabs.
The plates were cleared, I lit a smoke. Then the waiter asked if he should get the soup. Soup!! We hadn’t ordered soup. I was about to pick a fight, when it was explained to us that all we had till then was duck skin. This was followed by duck soup and then the main course of duck meat arrived! Phew..and let’s not even talk about the crustacean.
Fellow eaters, if you ever order Peking duck just order a glass of water to go with it.