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The Great Food Cities of the World: London

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The Great Food Cities of the World: London

Session 3 of a 6-Session Evening Course

Tuesday, March 6, 2018 - 6:45 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET
Code: 1M2945C
S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)
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What are the elements that make a city a world gastronomic citadel? In some cases, ready access to superb ingredients and centuries of evolving knowledge about how to use them. In other cases, the specialness of the cuisine is a product of the unique ethnic and cultural blend that results in new flavors and cooking methods. In some cities, cooking traditions are rooted in colonization or conquest, with the conquered often prevailing when it comes to setting the agenda—and the table—as to how people eat.  

Food expert and passionate culinary historian Fred Plotkin has identified six very distinct places that are, in their own ways, world centers of food and drink. Three are the capital cities of their important nations, while the other three are extraordinary in that they are surrounded by superb agricultural resources that influence what food is available and how it is cooked. In every case, these cities promise tantalizingly delicious subject matter for Plotkin’s commentary accented with mouth-watering photos. 

Plotkin is the author of six cookbooks and has been a finalist for the Julia Child and James Beard awards. His food writing has appeared in Gourmet, Bon Appétit, The New York Times, Food & Wine, FT, and Daily Telegraph.


The notion of British cooking has been the timeless butt of jokes, but in reality London has long been a world culinary capital. As the chief city of an empire, it drew on ingredients from everywhere to create a cuisine that has been immensely influential. Fish, seafood, beef, and lamb are all first-rate. London is the capital of the world wine trade, as well as a trendsetter in beverages, such as tea and coffee. The city also boasts its own traditional dishes, some wonderful and others eccentric, that contribute to its fascination as a place to eat well.