The Lost Londoner… There and Back Again

Sarah Webb gets lost in the memory of London one last time.

Carnaby Street.
Carnaby Street.

The smell of brigadeiro is amazing.

For those of you unfamiliar with the dish, you’ll learn its origin soon. For now, as I reside in my Aussie abode and poorly mix the cocoa, butter and condensed milk into one giant, brown, messy goo, memories of cooking with my Brazilian friend Thais back in London, flood my mind.

It was only one week ago that I had touched back down in the land of Oz and I’m already missing the people I made connections with during my Londonium adventures.

After class one day, Thais had promised me to make brigadeiro – a classic Brazilian recipe that her family delights in when it’s someone’s birthday. Willing to break tradition, we picked up the ingredients and headed back to our dorms, ready to unleash our inner master chefs.

What happens when an Australian tries brigadeiro for the first time?
What happens when an Australian tries brigadeiro for the first time?

She’s a better cook than me, no doubt. After 10 minutes, the dish was ready. It’s hard to describe the taste of brigadeiro, it’s sweet yet sour all at once, and rich in flavour. After devouring the chocolaty mess and developing food babies, we called it a night – a day well spent.

The following days were full of memories that left me feeling glad that I had gone through all the trouble to get to those moments in time. I had one week left and I still had a lot planned before I was due to depart. So off I went to fulfill more adventures.

Possibly one of the most memorable nights was when the other students and I were given tickets to go see Phantom Of The Opera. I love musicals, and the Gothic genre never fails to excite.

The applause always ‘gets me’ at the finale, no matter how good or how bad the musical was – never fails to amaze me how much people can spill so much happiness and wonder in one moment. Also doesn’t hurt that the lead threw a charming smile our way, but I wouldn’t say I was ‘fan-girling’. Well… maybe a little.

The following days saw us visit tearooms at the Cotswold’s, go out to some quirky bars and restaurants in London’s hipster-haven Soho, tripping down Carnaby Street and getting a taste of the local cuisine.

The Soho mural.
The Soho mural.

On my final day, my friends and I had organised to go out for lunch before my plane left the same night, so I was running around a lot in the final hours I had left in London. But we topped off our time together with some spicy Mexican at a place called Wahaca. This resulted in one of us being locked in the bathroom downstairs for a good ten minutes, before being released from the tiled cell, and the rest of us making the waiter potter around for an hour before ordering, as our entourage was down a member.

Overall, I had never been known to make such long-lasting connections with people I had met just a fortnight ago. They say those who wander are never lost, and in some cases, I tend to agree, but I enjoyed my time getting lost with this squad.

So there we were; an Australian, one Brazilian and two Americans all sat around eating Mexican food, happily chatting away and grinning at the thought of making such great memories together. The best part to any international trip is the definitely the people we meet and this experience certainly taught me that.

Returning to the food project before me, I gave the homemade brigadeiro I’d made a try. My brother had a spoonful first and takes one look at me and says, “Hmm, just like Vegemite…” That’s it, I had let down the people of Brazil.

I’m sure they’d be glad to hear that a beloved delicacy of theirs was similar to the spread I put on my toast most mornings. Testing the home-made dish out for myself, I take a hesitant bite.

Unsurprisingly, my 16 year-old brother was wrong. I admit, the texture was similar to Vegemite, but there’s no denying the chocolate taste put me in a state of euphoria.

Satisfied that I hadn’t let the people of Brazil down, I’m glad I had brought an important life lesson back home with me from London; I can make a mean brigadeiro.

Images: Sarah Webb

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