Friday 24 June 2016

To Europe with love

Because I'm bloody gutted and angry and heartbroken that today my right and privilege to be European has been taken away from me ...

I'm compelled to post on a little city in Europe's heart, and close to its capital.

The fact that it's called Ghent, and also Gent, and Gand, depending on whether you are speaking English or Dutch/Flemish or German or French expresses to me perfectly the whole point and beauty of the European Union - that it is possible to maintain our uniqueness while appreciating and benefiting from our combined value.

As everywhere in Belgium there's no shortage of high-end fine dining here

Vrijmoed Restaurant, Gent

but there's just as much concern with the quality of ordinary, everyday food 

Belgian beer and frites

Belgian waffles, of course

Sole with garnaaltjes (crevettes), the small grey shrimps from the North Sea, with ... frites, obviously

And less traditionally, the new vegan venture of Alain Coumont, founder of the world-wide Le Pain Quotidien - one of my most favourite places in London to stop in for a bowl of decent coffee and good Belgian bread and patisserie.  

It's called Le Botaniste, and the combination of old apothecary interior and delicious organic vegan food has been replicated in a second opening in New York recently. (Will he want to bring it to London now?)

I'm sorry, Europe, that we've forgotten the lessons of history and fractured our union

forested suburb of Gent

that we've allowed a discourse of 'us versus them' to blind us to the fact that we can celebrate what's uniquely ours while enjoying our differences

that mistrust and fear and stupid politicking have prevailed over solidarity and sharing of  resources and languages and culture.

the beach at Ostend

But most of all I'm sorry that we've diminished ourselves.

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