Not my cup of tea

BEFORE REACHING MADEIRA, many people insisted that we should visit Reid’s Hotel in Funchal and to take afternoon tea there.

Pool at Reid’s Hotel in Madeira

Located in the western part of Funchal,  Reid’s was founded by William Reid, a Scotsman who arrived in Madeira in 1836. The hotel was his idea but he died before it was completed (in 1891). The massive seafront establishment was designed by George Somers Clarke and John Thomas Micklethwaite. It is not great architecture.

Since its opening, the hotel has hosted many famous guests including Winston Churchill,  Albert Schweitzer, George Bernard Shaw, and Rainer Maria Rilke. Apart from its celebrated guests, the establishment is famed for its afternoon teas. We decided against partaking of this treat because it contains far too many sugary confections. We had morning coffee and a pot of tea by the swimming pools on a terrace overlooking the ocean. By Funchal standards, it was costly (10 euros) but not outrageously so.

Undoubtedly, Reid’s is luxurious with good service. Its position overlooking a rocky cove is superb even though it is located in a part of Funchal, which resembles unexciting slightly upmarket seaside resorts on Italy’s Adriatic coast. However, the well-appointed hotel seemed somewhat sterile. If sun and sea is your top priority, then Reid’s is the place to go if you can afford it. However, it lacks the charm of other places in Funchal.

Well, we did visit Reid’s as people had suggested before we left London but I must say that it is not my ‘cup of tea’.

Raw fish

raw

 

Japanese food was a relatively new addition to the Londoner’s diet in the early 1970s. It was then that I first tasted sashimi (i.e. raw fish).

Some friends including my future wife persuaded me, an impecunious PhD student, to join them at one of London’s few Japanese restaurants. This one was in St Christophers Passage that leads off Oxford Street. I ordered a serving of tuna sahimi. Four neatly cut cubes of tuna arrived in front of me. It was delicious. Fish had never tasted as good as this before. Cooking, however carefully done, removes something essential from the fresh taste of fish. The four exquisite cubes of fish soon disappeared. I did not order anymore because this tiny portion of sashimi  cost £7 Sterling, a huge amount in the early 1970s. The purchasing power of £7 in 1974 is roughly equivalent to the purchasing power of £66 today. Despite its enormous price, I became ‘hooked’ on sashimi

I must tell you that I left the Japanese restaurant with my hunger unassuaged. Without telling my friends, I sneaked off to a nearby … now, don’t frown disapprovingly … McDonalds outlet and filled up on junk food.

Fortunately, although not cheap, Japanese food, including sashimi, is relatively cheaper in London now than it was back in the 1970s,