Mushy peas. Could that sound any more unappetizing? That's what the Brits serve as the standard side with fish and chips, and that's what they call it. Mushy peas are a pound extra if you're buying at the venue concessions, which have been the major source of sustenance for Team Star Trib at these Olympics.

I know, the country that gave the world McDonald's and Taco Bell shouldn't be criticizing others' cuisine. But there are some curious foodstuffs here. A couple of nights ago at the gymnastics venue, the sandwich choices were falafel or red onion chutney and brie. I opted for a Cadbury bar. Those are great--the Brits know how to do mass-market chocolate--and I've learned to keep one in my backpack at all times.

There also are some peculiar flavors of crisps (what we call potato chips; chips here are French fries). Most interesting: Prawn cocktail-flavored Pringles. Again, not eager to try that.

The Olympic mascots are curious, too. A cyclops? Really? And a metallic one at that? Sports mascots should be cuddly, like TC Bear or Goldy Gopher. They should at least be faux-fearsome, like Crunch or the Lynx's Prowl. The Olympic mascot is called Wenlock, and I imagine he is inspiring children's nightmares all over Britain. Oh, and he has a buddy, Mandeville, the Paralympic mascot. So if your kids aren't terrified by one metallic cyclops, here's another one!

The Brits may be lacking in tasty food, but they more than make up for it with their sense of humor. I saw an interview on the BBC the other day with the stuntman who played the Queen in the opening ceremonies spoof where she parachuted out of a helicopter. The interviewer asked the guy about getting fitted for the costume, and he said, "I asked to bring my own dresses, but they said no.''  He added that he asked to keep the dress he wore in the video, and that he would have worn it for a night out on the town. His request was turned down.

One of the in-arena videos that plays before competitions has a bit with comedian Ricky Gervais, one of my favorites. In talking about one British point of pride--the fact that many sports were invented or codified here--he notes that the Brits have invented lots of sports that other people are much better at. They can laugh at themselves, too, always a good quality.


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