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08 June, 2004

Metropolis of multiculture

It is fortunate that the American gentleman across the table at the Noodle House is not the King of Spain. If so, one would be obliged to save his embarrassment by emulating his gaffeous attempt to eat with the wrong end of his chopsticks - the flat, splayed ends where the sticks were joined together before being split apart for eating.

He gives up after a few failed stabs at his noodles. Our food arrives some time after his, and he casts a rather sad and bewildered glance across at the display of exquisite chopstickery that now takes place before him. Hopefully he will learn by example.

No less cultural clash and confusion abounds at the Marriott's Hofbrauhaus. Firstly, there are no hearty krauts: instead the place is packed wall-to-wall with dishdash downing tall steins of weissbier, white keffiyahs tied back urban-Bedu style. Various lederhosen stroll about - ill-filled by slender Indians and Russians. The temperature is more akin to Munich midwinter than a heartening, fire-warmed bierkeller.

However one Germanic tradition is warmly welcomed for its absence: the oompah band. Like human sacrifice, female circumcision and the Scottish bagpipes, this is something best shut away permanently in the cultural cupboard of oblivion.

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