I'm going to give the collections and exhibits at the British National Maritime Museum (Greenwich), a free pass at the moment, because much of it is still under construction for the next few months. I will say I was under-awed at what was there, and frustrated on occasion that the panels were positioned for 6 year olds, not 6 foot tall adults. Nevertheless, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt for now and will leave my comments about the exhibits at that.
What was noteworthy, however, was lunch. I've learned not to expect much from British restaurants. Particularly those in museums. Usually I'm happy if my prepackaged sandwich has wholewheat wonderbread and at least two distinguishable flavours. If I can find a side made with something other than potatos, I'm awestruck.
So, upon visiting the Museum Café, with its beautiful views of Greenwich park, I was completely bowled over at the quality of the food. It was fresh, home made, healthy, and delicious. I had gone in expecting deep fried fish and chips - appropriate for a Maritime Museum I thought - and instead came out with a homemade pork and pickle pie (clearly made by someone who knew their way around a kitchen), and a wonderful toasted pecan and gorgonzola salad. My wife had delicious smoked salmon on a bagel and a slice of perfectly ripe watermelon. To our surprise, and that of everyone before us, the fresh fruit was included with every sandwich, prompting more than one person to put down their bag of chips (crisps).
The tragedy is of course, that a healthy lunch is noteworthy at all. At institutions that focus on drawing families, it's disheartening to see all too often that the only options are deep fried. In one case - Hampton Court - the food was so bad that my family left most of it on our trays and went hungry until we could get home. Museums have the opportunity to act as examples for the community, as cultural centres of sharing and learning. I hope more of them follow in the footsteps of the British National Maritime Museum, and extend that to a good, healthy meal.
Memories! We found that taking a cut lunch everywhere we went in England was a must both because the food out was dreadful and it was over-priced (to add insult to injury). It is great that the cafe at the museum was an exception to this rule. May they do a roaring trade!
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