Tooting is what I used to do when I was little, before I was allowed to say I was farting. So I didn’t fart. I tooted.
The Tooting I’m talking about now is an area of London very close to where we live. By very close I mean one stop on the tube or a 5 minute bus ride.
When we were still living at “mother’s” house back in Hendon, we lived with an old Jamaican man named Max. Max has been everywhere, seen everything and done everything in London.
On any given day an expression you can expect to hear from Max will be one or more of the following:
“It is absolutely fan. tas. tic.”
“There is not a [place such as theatre or restaurant] in London I haven’t been to.”
“It is mag-nificent”
“If you want the best [restaurant, market, etc.] go here.”
One time I made the mistake of telling Max I was planning to go to a certain market. He then proceeded to tell me that Brixton market was the most fan.tas.tic market, and is the place you need to go to get bush meat. According to Max, if I want to get bush meat in London, all I have to do is go up to one of the vendors, look side to side to check for any cops, and then slyly ask if they have any bush meat in the back and they will bring it up for me.
(For future reference to anyone traveling to London, never go to Brixton market. It smells like dirty dead fish and is filled with crap no one wants to buy. F for presentation. F for content.)
Although I generally tuned Max out after a while, I did catch a bit. When he found out we were moving to SW19, he told us that “the Tooting area is the place to go if you want the most authentic Indian food.”
Quick lesson. London’s postcodes are great because you immediately know where in the city a person is talking about by the first two letters. Our postcode is SW19 1TX, which means we live in South West London. When we lived at “mother’s” we were in NW4 4NB, so North West London.
I didn’t really think much of Max’s assessment of Tooting. How could I when everywhere is “the place to go”?
This week, however, I found out for myself. I went down to Tooting Broadway because I was trying to find an NHS doctor to register with. It’s definitely not the nicest area of London, but it’s really really cool. Max was right. Walking down the street I was one of the only white, non-Muslim women around and the entire street smelled so amazing. It smelled like a tandoori bbq. I walked way further than I even intended to because I was looking in all the restaurants and groceries. When I went into a couple charity shops they had quite a lot of traditional Indian clothing in addition to English clothing so that was really cool as well.
I can’t wait to go back to try some of the restaurants, at which point I will update as to how yumm-o they are. I can’t really attest to the authenticity as I’m not Indian and don’t know what authentic really tastes like.