London through Teenage Eyes

I tend to write about my adult expat perspective,

but I have to note how different London looks to my 15 year old daughter.

For me, London is a playground of cultural and culinary discoveries.  The same is true for Jackie but with a completely different perspective.  By the teenage playbook, culture is defined by high streets and malls and culinary is defined primarily by fast food.

To be fair, Jackie is a great companion, and I can often drag her on my weekend excursions.  However, left to her own devices, her path and mine diverge.

Last Sunday, Jackie and a friend announced that they were in the mood for exploration.  With unusual energy, Jackie explained that she wanted to get out and do something new.  This plan sounded great to me, and I happily set them loose.  Upon return, about 3 hours later, I found out she and her friend had wandered around Soho.  So far so good.  When I asked what they discovered, I was told they had found “the best frozen yogurt place ever, Snog“.  Interesting that she had to venture to Soho to find the same yogurt store that exists at the end of our local high street!


Near Soho, in Leicester Square, is another one of Jackie’s favorite haunts, The M&M Store.  Move over Dylan’s Candy Bar!  At 35,000 square feet, The M&M Store in London is the largest candy store in the world.  It seems to be a common backdrop for all the selfies Jackie and her friends love to snap.  The chocolate isn’t too bad either!


Jackie loves to stroll along the high street in the northern hamlet of Hampstead on the weekends.  The change of scenery is welcome, and she window shops in all the retail stores. But, truth be told, the main reason for the journey is to eat at Tinseltown American Diner which, according to Jackie, has the “world’s best shakes and awesome curly fries”.  American cuisine is defined in Britain by juicy hamburgers (which are all the rage), rich milkshakes, and thick curly fries (a.k.a chips).

Yesterday, I received notification from our car service that Jackie had hired a car to go to the Westfield Mall.  This may not seem noteworthy.  However, the car was ordered for 1:00 pm in the middle of the school day!  I checked in with Jackie immediately and discovered that she had a free period combined with her lunch period, affording her one and a half hours of freedom.  She is permitted to leave campus during lunch or “frees” so she took advantage of the situation.

I was not pleased with this choice, and when I asked for an explanation, she said in self defense, “Mom, I don’t understand why you are so upset.  The mall is the only place we can find Auntie Anne’s pretzels“.  If you have ever traveled in an airport, these are the gross greasy pretzels that are either butter-battered or sugar-coated and come with either a syrup or cheesy dip.  The pretzel trip was completely justified in Jackie’s teenage realm of rationalization.


I give you this pitch: Travel to London!  Here you can enjoy all those delectable treats from home: frozen yogurt, creamy milkshakes, crispy curly fries, M&Ms, and greasy over-sized pretzels.  Your dentist will cringe, but your teenager will love you.

And so, I will continue on my cultural and culinary quest and Jackie will continue on hers. Perhaps one day our paths with meet.

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