I Ate Like the Royal Family for 3 Days and Have Never Felt Fancier
And it wasn't all just biscuits and tea.
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 17: (L-R) Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, Prince George of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge look out from the balcony of Buckingham Palace during the Trooping the Colour parade on June 17, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Day 1: Queen Elizabeth II
But that's "her majesty" to you.
Her Majesty the Queen is 91 years old. And she is Britain’s longest (and the world’s oldest) reigning monarch.
The secret to her longevity? Who knows. But she does take gin before lunch each day, and a glass of Champagne before bed each night.
In what appears to be an increasingly secular world, the mythos surrounding royalty has yet to fizzle out completely — thanks in part to shows like The Crown. Whatever skepticism one might hold, we still seem to respect, bow down, and subscribe to the notion of a crowned figure that holds some sort of divine power. We might not fully understand or believe in it, but nonetheless, it still manages to strike awe in us.
In other words: Even if you’re not sure about the whole monarchy thing, you’d still freak out if you met the Queen of England.
You would. Don’t lie.
In honor of Her Majesty (and really, any excuse to get just a taste of what it feels like to be royalty) I set out (wholeheartedly) to eat just like the royals. By Jove, if the right to divine rule can’t run in my veins, maybe it can run in my stomach.
Details of Queen Elizabeth’s dietary preferences and habits are well-documented.
According to The Telegraph, twice a week, the Queen flips through a red leather-bound book of menu suggestions, provided by Mark Flanagan, the head chef of the royal household. She "ticks what she likes and draws a line through the rest."
And uh ... that’s pretty much all the Queen has to do to get top-notch meals every day.
Her Majesty begins the day with tea and biscuits.
And when I say "begins," I do not mean breakfast.
I mean that she literally begins her day with tea and biscuits — a pre-breakfast, an introduction to the primary meal most of us commoners tend to consider what we eat first thing in the morning.
Frankly, pre-breakfast sounds awesome.
Until you realize you are not the actual Queen and will, in fact, not wake up to freshly prepared tea and biscuits at your bedside.
(Heartbreaking, I know.)
I finally get out of bed and make myself a cup of Earl Grey tea, sans milk and sugar (because that is how she likes it) and which, I might add, is not the way I like mine. But she is the queen, so for this one pre-meal, I submit.
I pair it with biscuits (what we Americans call "cookies"), and actually sit down at my kitchen table to enjoy my pre-meal — a rare Monday morning occurrence for me, since I’m usually already late for work and often practice the art of eat-running out my front door.
One bite into the pistachio shortbread cookie, I realize I’m doing this all wrong. Sure, I didn’t wake up to tea and biscuits, but I’ve gotta eat it the way they were meant to be enjoyed: in bed.
Or at least, that’s where I imagine one would eat pre-breakfast.
Back into bed I go, and for a split second on this Monday morning, I am relaxed.
I’m forced to slow down, take life in, and make a mess in my bed.
Yeah. Sorry. I’ve reached that level of young adulthood where I’ll usually forego the comforts of mattress dining for an overall cleaner sleeping experience.
But not so adult that I don’t miss the sweeter things in life.
As I lament/savor in my forced tea and biscuit time, I nearly forget I actually have to go to work instead of sit in bed all day and eat.
Contrary to what one might imagine, the Queen is "not a foodie," but just "eats to live," according to Darren McGrady, a former chef in the royal kitchens.
And she’s practical, too. For breakfast, she typically goes for cereal — that must be served from a plastic storage container to maintain freshness — and fruit.
You know, guys. The Queen is a lot like us. She leans on Special K and has some fruit on the side. Nothing we haven’t tasted before. What an adorably wholesome and simple breakfast.
It is no surprise then, that in addition to Quaker Oats and Weetabix, Kellogg’s holds a "royal warrant," which is a "mark of recognition" that allows those who supply goods or services to the royal households to advertise themselves as such.
So yeah. The next time your roommate judges you for shoveling Kellogg’s into your mouth at one o’clock in the morning, gently remind them that if it’s good enough for the Queen of England, it’s good enough for you.
Beyond cereal, she occassionally strays from her usual morning meal and "opts for toast and marmalade ... or, on some occasions, enjoys scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and truffle."
I mean, it’s expected that sometimes she’ll choose to fully exercise her power.
Why? ’Cause she can.
Before I know it, between meetings and general work ~stuff~, I realize I have to run out of the office for lunch.
It begins to become apparent that the Queen’s eating schedule doesn’t exactly fit my office lifestyle. It’s only noon, and I’ve already made time to sit down and eat two (!!!) times.
And in my one hour, I’ve got to sit down for the third time, be served, drink a cocktail, eat lunch, and run back to work.
Hehehe, yeah. You read that right. I "have" to drink a cocktail at lunch.
On. A. Monday.
Lillie’s Victorian Establishment, 13 East 17th Street, New York, NY 10003
I make my way to Lillie’s, a restaurant with a Victorian Era theme and dedicated to Lillie Langtry, a "highly successful" British actress and socialite of the 19th century — also "notorious" for her long list of suitors, including the then future King of England, Edward VII.
Inside, Lillie’s is large and ornate, "ostentatious," but comfortable — an ambiance meant to represent "one of the last great Victorian 'gin places.'"
Which is appropriate — since I now must request a very specific drink: gin mixed with Dubonnet (a "sweet, aromatised" wine aperitif), along with a slice of lemon and lots of ice.
And incidentally, I check with the bartender, this drink doesn’t have a name — just one that the Queen drinks daily, before lunch, according to The Independent.
And it’s strong, yes. And earthy.
Needless to say, it’s lit.
It tastes like an old people drink.
#SorryNotSorry #IsLizzieNotOld? #SheIs. #AndThat’sOkay. #ThatsWhyShe’sCool.
I’ll let this one speak for itself.
A non-fussy and evidently health-conscious ruler, Queen Elizabeth usually has "something simple" like fish and vegetables, or grilled chicken with salad for lunch.
And when eating alone — which is expected in the middle of a busy Monday — she also employs a "no starch" rule, which means no potatoes, rice, or pasta, as reported by McGrady in The Daily Mail.
As I finish the last of my lunch — a meal that doesn’t veer far from what I would normally eat — I can see the Queen’s need for a drink and a light, yet satisfying salad. When you’re helping to run an entire wealth of nations, must give your attention to inquiry upon inquiry, and serve as a highly-scrutinized yet adored figure, there’s a need to unwind on the regular — all in the name of retaining one’s sanity, I’m sure.
It isn’t long before I have to head out of the office again to make my way to afternoon tea, a quintessential British meal ritual that Queen Elizabeth takes every day.
But everything’s in her palace. Within walking distance.
The Carlyle, 35 East 76th Street, New York, NY 10021
I arrive at The Carlyle, a luxurious hotel located in the Upper East Side of Manhattan and am shown the way to The Gallery, a gently lit room with red velvet armchairs, white tablecloths, and a traditional aesthetic of luxury — aka a sense of old money.
I admit I feel slightly out of place, especially since it’s my first time having traditional Afternoon Tea, and because it’s such a clear departure from the generally familiar food experiences Queen Elizabeth had led me through thus far.
While Her Majesty wasn’t above Special K out of a storage container, she most certainly still Tea-ed like royalty.
This is it, guys. This is Afternoon Tea.
You get three tiers — sweets on top, scones in the middle, and sandwiches on the bottom. You get clotted cream and marmalades. You get a beautifully decorated pot of tea and a matching cup. This is everything you could possibly want at 3:10 p.m.
After I finally settle down from the hype, I pick up a sandwich and...
... I am not sure what to do with myself.
Undetered, I slather on the marmalade.
Then, I just GO for it.
But then a pang of guilt and insecurity comes over me.
So I text my friend from England for some advice.
At last I do what I’m supposed to do and spread the cream and maramalade on a scone. And let me tell you, the scones are nice, warm, and dry — an obvious complement to cream and marmalade.
(I still regret nothing.)
And this might seem obvious, but I’m having a good time. I don’t think I’ve taken so many moments in one day — really, at this point only half the day — to just sit down and enjoy what I’m eating.
Afternoon Tea proves to be another form of unwinding.
Can confirm the sweets on top are delicious.
OK, so I do finally listen to my friend and eat a finger sandwich like a normal person. And another, and another, down the line.
I notice they are all different sandwiches — cucumber, ham and mustard, smoked salmon. And I’m actually glad I didn’t drench the sandwiches in marmalade and cream because I wouldn’t have noticed that they each tasted different. They are so light and subtle, but again, when you sit down and savor, you really appreciate how much variety is at hand.
This is not just snacking on one large bag of homogenous Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Here, you get a wide range of textures and flavors — the smoothness of the mousse from the sweets, the dry crumbliness of the scone, the chewiness of the sandwiches — it’s truly a perfectly balanced mini meal. And I get it now. I get why the Queen never opts out of Afternoon Tea.
Note to self: do not attempt to eat all the food at Afternoon Tea by yourself ever again.
At this point, I’m still not very hungry for dinner, but I already made a reservation — which you could say is the equivalent to a royal appointment. ’Cause sometimes the Queen has to make plans for dinner too, and can’t just get out of them. In which case I really don’t know how she has the stomach to eat this often.
But then again, she probably doesn’t try to eat all of Afternoon Tea at once.
St. Anselm, 355 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211
I arrive at St. Anselm, a cool and casual steakhouse in Brooklyn, and am shown to my table once again. It is the the third time I am being served and the fifth time today that I am sitting down to eat.
Despite the fact that I am a young professional living in New York City, for a moment I actually miss the satisfaction and simplicity in cooking for myself. Dining out this often can wear you down, and I dunno, sometimes you just want to eat carrots and hummus in a T-shirt and underwear in the living room and not talk to people.
But all right — I am here. And for dinner, Her Majesty typically eats filets of beef, venison, pheasant, or salmon straight from farms in Sandringham, a country retreat for the royal family, and Balmoral, one of their holiday homes in Scotland.
Usually the meat is turned into a Gaelic steak, served with a mushroom, cream, and whiskey sauce.
But... they don’t have that on the menu here, so I order a simple Hanger steak and cauliflower on the side. Because I need vegetables, people.
She’s also partial to a Sunday roast — a traditional British meal comprising a roasted meat, potato, and accompaniments like Yorkshire pudding, vegetables, gravy, and stuffing, served well done.
But I don’t have that because I already have this steak, and also it’s Monday.
Omg. I can’t eat anymore.
I barely make it a third of the way through before I have really had too much good food today. #QueenElizabethProblem #AndFoodNetworkStafferPosingAsQueenProblem
She doesn’t. And why would you not take home half a steak?
I come home and am greeted by the the irritatingly irresistble aroma of instant ramen. UGH. Despite being fed like a Queen the whole day, my inner garbage human being still wants ramen.
But I will myself against temptation.
Believe it or not, this day of eating like Lizzie is still not over.
Like any respectable person, she likes chocolate for dessert — in the form of both luxury and regular pleb grocery store bars, or in chocolate biscuit cake, one of her favorites.
Dessert in the royal household also includes strawberries (what else would go with chocolate... duh) from Balmoral.
And of course, she finishes each day with a glass of champagne.
Now I couldn’t get a single serving of Krug, which holds a royal warrant, so I had to settle for a bottle of Moet & Chandon.
Oh. No. Whatever shall I do?
POP THAT BOTTLE.
After a long day of being fake Queen, I can see why she might find the need to unwind every night.
Between meals in an otherwise relatively relatable and simple diet, I find that the Queen treats herself — and treats herself well — to nuggets of luxury, a pragmatic balance that I respect and could realistically follow on a regular basis.
But mostly, I see it as a wholly acceptable excuse to amp up "treat yo’ self" spending.
DAY 2: Prince Philip
He's also called the Duke of Edinburg—so I can eat for two today?
While Queen Elizabeth only "eats to live," she is much unlike her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburg, who "loves to eat and would stand and talk food all day."
As former chef of the royal kitchens Darren McGrady reveals: Prince Philip is one of us.
A foodie lives prominently within the royal palace.
Cue singing angels.
According to The Daily Meal, Prince Philip likes to have Ryvita, an English-brand crispbread (basically crackers), and granary toast with honey, syrup, and marmalade for breakfast.
But sometimes, he likes to indulge in a fry-up aka a full English breakfast.
So of course, as the fellow foodie I am, I opt for the fancier meal.
(Side note: As I sit at my little office desk on this fine morning, my stomach cringes as I painstakingly type the word "foodie." Ya, ya, I get it — I work at Food Network. So, of course I’m a "foodie," but why do we need a term — with a slight connotation of basicness — for someone who cares about what they eat? For someone who likes to see a meal not as a cumbersome requirement of self-preservation, but as a great opportunity for exploration and experience?
...OK, yeah. I’m a foodie. Tbh, everyone should be one. How else would you even live?)
But I digress.
Oscar’s Place, 466 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10013
First thing in the morning, I head over to Oscar’s Place, a little British-Belgian bistro in the West Village, where I can find a classic full English breakfast.
But before anything else, I order a coffee, black, since the Prince rarely drinks tea (what?!) and doesn’t add milk or sugar to his morning beverage — one preference he shares with Her Majesty the Queen.
My fry-up arrives and it looks so wholesome — even more wholesome than Special K and strawberries packed in a plastic container.
A fry-up, at minimum, consists of sausage and bacon, eggs, beans, tomatoes, toast (check, check, check, check, check) and optionally black and white pudding, kidney, kippers, mushrooms (check), and potatoes.
As I slowly but surely make my way through this very large plate, it becomes apparent that this is a meal meant to fuel and fill you.
It’s rich and hearty, and a great "real food"alternative to my usual breakfast bars eaten in haste during my morning commute. The baked beans are gooey and savory, the yolk oozing and luscious, the bread warm and perfectly baked.
24 minutes later, I cannot have another bite. I conclude that this is really brunch, not breakfast. Heed my words: full English "breakfast"= BRUNCH.
But beyond the meal itself, enjoying such a large, decadent, and variegated plate of food pushed me to slow down and take in everything I was eating — something, which I’ll admit, I don’t think I ever do on a Tuesday morning, or any weekday morning for that matter.
Nyonya, 199 Grand Street, New York NY 10028
In an interview with Michael Sealey, a chef who prepared dishes for the royal family for over 40 years, fine dining magazine Fine Dining Lovers reported that Prince Philip has the "most demanding palate of the family" and would ask his cooks to recreate dishes he’d tasted abroad, upon his return from frequent voyages.
And "reprimand them if the result didn’t correspond exactly to his memories."
By midday, I am craving Malaysian food.
And what! Oh! What a coincidence?! Would you believe Prince Philip has been to Malaysia.
Crazy how my cravings and Prince Philip’s list of "Yep, I’ve been there" places just happen to line up.
So, I trek down to Nyonya, one of my favorite Malaysian restaurants in the city, located on the edge of Little Italy and Chinatown.
But as much as I’d like to sit and stay, I take my lunch to-go because turns out I’m apparently not the Duke of Edinburg and have a 9-to-5 to attend to.
Back at the office, I scarf down a helping of Chow Kueh Teow, a hot and spicy stir-fried noodle dish with shrimp, squid, scallions, bean sprouts, egg, soy sauce, and chili paste.
I also nibble on an all-time Malaysian favorite – Roti Canai, which is a soft and crispy pancake served with a potato and chicken curry dipping sauce.
As much as I’ve been enjoying my time tasting a bunch of British foods for the first time, I appreciate that Prince Philip and I both like to dabble beyond English cuisine.
At 5:01 p.m., I am in a pickle.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, I have not one, but two extremely incredible dinnertime options: a caviar-focused meal at Chefs Club, where dozens of Michelin-starred chefs come to serve some of their best dishes for limited amounts of time, or a customized coursed meal at The Ritz-Carlton in Central Park.
Yeah, I know. This has got to be one of the worst pickles I have ever found myself in in my young commoner life.
What would Prince Philip do?
After several moments of terrible, terrible deliberation, I have an answer.
He would go to both, duh.
What kind of foodie would he/we be if we didn’t make time in our schedule for both?
Chefs Club, 275 Mulberry Street, New York, NY 10012
For the first of my Prince Philip dinners, I head to Chefs Club in NoLiTa.
The restaurant is exactly what it sounds like — a "club" where world renowned chefs from all around the globe come and go, and create for guests some of the best signature dishes that launched them into the culinary stratosphere.
You can even watch them cook in the open kitchen.
The main menu consists of a little more than twenty dishes by twenty chefs. In one night, you can indulge in a Roasted Squash Salad by Alex Guarnaschelli, a Croque Monsieur by Eric Ripert, Smoked Arctic Char by Marcus Samuelsson, and a Chocolate Coupe by Jacques Torres — without so much as lifting your bottom from the seat.
Behind an unassuming, quiet facade in NoLiTa is one of the most innovative dining concepts — and variegated concentrations of culinary expertise — in New York City.
If nothing else, it is a foodie’s dream.
One of the first things I notice is a giant pink Himalayan rock salt hanging from the ceiling.
Yup, that’s where your slightly-more-expensive-but-you-still-buy-it-anyway pink salt comes from.
And I honestly can’t get over it. It’s so cool.
I look at the main menu — and another, a limited-edition menu created by Matthew Accarrino, a Michelin-starred executive Chef at the helm of SPQR, a restaurant in San Francisco with "Italian Inspired Cuisine and Wine."
The menu focuses on caviar and sturgeon, a catch-all name that refers to 27 species of fish that are harvested for their roe (fish eggs) and ultimately processed into caviar.
I realize those are words I don’t normally throw around. I am not used to this — but here we are.
Per the staff’s recommendation, I choose items off of the limited-edition menu, and my appetizer arrives: a Sturgeon crudo, comprised of seaweed, pickled vegetables, black garlic "furikake," and of course, raw fish.
It’s one of fanciest appetizers I’ve ever had. The fish and vegetables are light and acidic, and balanced out by the black garlic "furikake," which is traditionally a dry Japanese seasoning sprinkled over rice, vegetables and fish, but in this case a thick, rich sauce smeared elegantly around the sides of the plate, and meant to be eaten with the fish. Hence the quotations.
(FYI, I am learning all of this between bites as I Google, like, everything).
And let me tell you, each bite is wonderful. And thanks to the internet, I can gush informed.
I know it sounds weird, but I like a plate of food that makes you stop and think.
As I wait for my entrée, I take a moment of bread appreciation.
To my pleasant surprise, my server brings me a tiny dish — a bite that the chef is asking his guests to taste.
A play on Tamagoyaki (egg sushi), the dish is a rolled "omelette" topped with uni (sea urchin), caviar, chive, and served with barrel-aged soy sauce.
I take it in just one bite, and it’s soft, creamy, luxurious, sumptuous. The soy sauce has such finesse — acidic and salty without being overbearing.
I don’t know how else to describe it. I smiled.
My entrée arrives – Potato and Smoked Sturgeon Gnocchi, made of pea pesto, Meyer lemon, crispy sturgeon, and pressed caviar.
Oh, sorry I also forgot to mention that each dish comes with a paired glass of wine or Champagne.
So... I am a happy girl right now. I won’t lie to you.
Several bites in, and with a solid amount of Champagne in me, I start to get a little emotional.
From the wine to the dishes to the bread, everything is amazing. And I think to myself: I would hate to get used to this. I would hate to have dining experiences like this one become the norm for me. So much of my time eating like royalty has prompted savoring, enjoying, slowing down, and virtually indeclinable invitations to pay attention to the food that’s in front of me.
All this silly food-induced happiness and wonder — I hope it never goes away.
K sorry, I’m done.
And just when you thought it was over, it’s time for dessert.
Dessert — a Yuzu & Sesame tart with citrus-raspberry sorbet and lemongrass tapioca by pastry chef Jared Sexton (he made the bread, too!) — is served.
I’ll let this one roll out in real time.
(The lime zest and yuzu smell amazing, by the way).
...One bite later:
"I am not alive." I type. In large font. As the pastry chef comes over to say hi.
And can barely hide his laughter.
I come home to a happy food coma, but admittedly, am exhausted. There is a bit of energy involved in indulgence, you know.
The Next Day
The Ritz-Carlton, Auden Bistro & Bar, 50 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019
I told you I’d make time for two awesome dinners, so I extend my period as Prince Philip just a tad longer, because who would pass up a customized meal at The Ritz-Carlton?
Tell me. Who would do that?
I arrive, for my first time ever, at The Ritz and am greeted graciously. They are expecting me, and one of the hotel's chefs, Kenny Massover, has prepared a coursed meal fit for English royalty.
And as you can imagine, this is just about as close to a true royal experience as I’ll ever get.
Inside, chandeliers hang with gold detail and I am escorted through a luxuriously decorated lounge and bar area into the Auden Bistro, the hotel’s dining room.
I came to The Ritz because back in the day, Prince Philip sent his chef Ronald Aubrey to train at The Ritz Hotel in Paris, to "learn from the best chefs in France" and to "satisfy his passion for international cuisine."
And so, we are here.
I start with a Sunchoke Bisque with Shiitake Mushroom Dust, and a Garnatxa Blanca wine. (Again, there’s a wine paired with each course. Lit.) And I love it. It’s hearty and oniony, thick with a bit of a grainy texture. I like that it’s in a little glass so it’s not too much, and you can just focus on the flavor.
And the wine complements the dish perfectly — light, airy, and smooth.
Between courses, I ask where the restroom is. And am slightly shocked at myself.
I guess that’s what happens when you’re surrounded by extravagance — you add a bit of flourish to your words to match up.
The next course is a Smoked Duck Reuben with fennel sauerkraut on a brioche slider bun, with a tomato marmalade on the side.
And predictably, it’s delicious.
I begin to get the sense that whole meal is very traditional, classic French-style cooking; the food is no less than what you would expect from a fine dining establishment.
The third course is a prosciutto wrapped cod with roasted carrot, asparagus, and spring pea velouté (one of the five "mother sauces" of French cuisine). My favorite bit of the plate is the sauce.
The paired wine, a Burgundy, is, again, light on the tongue — like the ideal low-commitment friend you always have a good time with, but never overstays their welcome.
The fourth course is pretty much all the fanciest foods you can think of put together on one plate: a filet mignon topped with foie gras, and with a white truffle pommes frites, served with a red wine reduction.
Let that all sink in for a moment.
Honestly, everything in this dish is so decadent. You can’t go wrong with these ingredients.
I mean – it was.
My favorite course of every meal arrives — and I am greeted with three little cakes.
Each one is sophisticated, but I become partial to the one with gold flecks.
Made with almond sponge cake, strawberry, Dulcey blond chocolate mousse, and caramel glaze, this one, made by one of the hotel’s pastry chefs Justin Baldwin, is a light, subtle dessert that just wants to soothe you, instead of attack you with sugar.
As I try to fit in the last of all the food I’ve enjoyed through the night, I tell myself Prince Philip would be proud.
The man knows how to live. He just gets me.
Day 3: Prince William & Kate (Duchess of Cambridge)
What does the coolest royal couple love to eat?
All good things come to an end. Including my royal diet.
But today is the day I eat like one of our generation’s most iconic couples: Prince William and Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge.
Although a ton isn’t published on the specifics of the pair’s everyday eating habits, it feels safe to say that in comparison to Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, their palates are the most modern.
And thanks to Kate – whom, you must remember, wasn’t born royal — I suspect I will be eased back into the real world, instead of falling from the heavens in one painful and dramatic drop.
In an interview with Racked, former palace chef Carolyn Robb revealed, "As far as I understand, they don’t have a chef at the moment."
Indeed, Kate does a lot of the cooking for her family.
During a gala dinner last year, Hello Magazine reported that Kate was heard quipping with a group of chefs, "William has to put up with my cooking most of the time."
To which the Prince playfully chimed in, "It’s the reason I’m so skinny!"
But on a more serious note, Robb offers some insight as to why this might be the case. After all, it’s not that William and Kate can’t get a chef, it’s that they’re trying to live a normal life for as long as they can.
Keep in mind that Prince William is second in line to succeed the throne, after his father, Charles, Prince of Wales.
"They’ll probably want to do that for as long as they can. Have a normal family life because that will really change when you have butlers and nannies and cooks around, the house is no longer your own."
Ooh. Wanna know what goes great in omelets? Ichimi Togarashi, which is just dried red chili pepper flakes crushed into powder. Since the flakes are finer, you can incorporate spice into your omelet more smoothly than you would with regular pepper flakes. This is made to go in your egg and milk mixture, rather than sprinkled on top of your cooked omelet.
With few details on what Kate cooks exactly, I decide to whip up one of my own go-to homemade breakfast meals, a mushroom, onion, and basil omelet.
Part of me hates that I am awake on a Wednesday morning, cooking (I value my sleep, all right?), but the other part of me appreciates the thought of eating something homemade. Generally, cooking at home results in simpler food, and you get to make what you want. Anything you want, not just whatever’s on the menu. And if it sucks, you just giggle at your inability, instead of fume over unmaximized meal-quality-to-price ratio.
And sometimes you just don’t have it in you to interact with the outside world this early in the morning.
I love me some sizzle in the morning.
OK, it’s bubbling on contact. I think I made the pan too hot.
I’m sorry Food Network culinary team (I work in digital), please don’t judge me.
See? One of the beauties of home cooking is that you will probably mess something up.
My omelet didn’t fold correctly. And some bits of onion fell out.
Do not use this as an example for how you should cook an omelet. You’ve been warned.
But you know what? My omelet tastes good, and that’s all that matters when you’re the only one eating it. And it was nice to have a quick and relatively un-extra meal, with absolutely zero human interaction.
One dish that Kate has gushed about is a homemade Indian curry vegetable dish, made by Chan Shingadia, who ran the SPAR shop, a convenience store, in Kate’s village in Berkshire with her husband Hash.
"She likes my wife’s cooking," 53-year old Hash tells Hello Magazine. "We cook for her mum and family."
Kate walked into the shop one day, and "smelled something delicious" cooking upstairs, reports Us Weekly. The couple shared the vegetarian curry (although, they did not reveal exactly what it was) with Kate to take away, and like that, she was hooked and found the dish to cure her pregnancy cravings.
This makes sense since Kate has voiced that she is a fan of spicy foods, while William "struggles" with heat.
Sorry, Prince William.
In search of some vegetarian curry, I make my way to "Curry Hill," an area of Manhattan that runs along Lexington Avenue and is home to a cluster of restaurants with Indian cuisine.
The dishes served at Indian restaurants across the pond have a "unique Anglo-Indian flavor," and the term "curry" was virtually non-existent prior to British rule in Colonial India. It was used to mean "anything with 'spicy gravy.'"
I remember my aforementioned British friend telling me this. "The Indian food in England – it’s different."
Indian restaurants in London modified their dishes to appeal to the British palate, and over time, evolved into a subset of Indian cuisine. Generally, British curries tend to be sweeter than their original Indian counterparts. And in Britain, sauces — such as Bhuna, Do Piaza, Vindaloo — can be customized to the diner’s choice of vegetables or meat. However, in traditional Indian cuisine, sauces are designed for their corresponding protein or vegetable, like Butter Chicken, and aren’t meant to be mixed-and-matched.
But anyway, back to lunch. I order a British House vegetable curry, and leave the specifics to Dhaba’s executive chef, Hemant Mathur.
As I wait for my main, I am surprised with a small appetizer, Bhel Poori, an Indian street food (chaat) made of puffed rice, vegetables, and a "tangy" tamarind sauce.
It’s the first time I’ve had this, and it’s sweet and savory and spicy and light all at the same time.
One of the perks of posing as a royal is the number of opportunities I have had to try foods and dining formats I’d never had before.
And you know me.
Oh wait, you don’t.
But fun fact: one of my favorite things to do in the whole wide world is expand my palate.
My vegetable curry arrives, and the sheer number of dishes that are on the table gives me life. But also, I’m not sure how I’ll be able to finish all this food.
(Side note: Seriously. Would you look at that naan? My god.)
Mmm, and it’s so good. Indeed, the curry is sweet and gentler than what I usually order (Butter Chicken), but I can still taste all the different spices in the dish.
Another fun fact: I’m pretty much a carnivore, but I don’t miss the meat at all. There’s so much flavor packed into this curry.
(Follow up on side note: the naan is insufferably fluffy and warm.)
I’m a fan of Kate’s craving cure of choice. And this is a meal that I could definitely see myself having again, and from a restaurant that is definitely within my usual price range. As a basic foodie millennial that likes to eat a variety of cuisines on the regular, I have to say William and Kate’s eating habits are a lot like mine.
Yet another Prince Philip problem: I come home with too many macarons and must find willing participants to eat these with me.
As you know (clearly, because you’ve been reading each one of my Snap installments), I pause my day as Prince William and Kate to have dinner as Prince Philip at The Ritz-Carlton.
It is late, but I can’t skimp out on Will and Kate so I resolve to stay up and cook Kate’s granny’s famous chutney recipe.
The story goes that Kate was staying at Sandringham, another royal retreat estate, for the first time during Christmas and couldn’t quite figure out what to give her grandmother-in-law: Her Majesty the Queen.
In her first solo interview, Kate recalls, "I was thinking, 'Gosh, what should I give her?' And I thought back to what I would give my own grandparents. And I thought, 'I’ll make her something,' which could have gone horribly wrong."
But it didn’t. Kate found the age-old Middleton family recipe sitting on the Queen’s dining table the next day.
"I think such a simple gesture went such a long way for me... it just shows her [the Queen’s] thoughtfulness, really, and her care in looking after everybody."
The marrow (the squash, not the insides of a bone) chutney recipe, which can be found in Pippa Middleton’s cookbook Celebration, seemed simple enough.
I get to chopping up and the good ol’ onion cry makes its grand entrance.
Made with only a few ingredients including dates, squash, apples, brown sugar, and a several spices, my pre-cooked chutney smells wonderful.
Gosh, it’s past midnight, but my chutney is still simmering, and it will be on the stove for a while.
It probably wasn’t the best idea to cook this late, but I’m already here.
I think about how much I like the solitude of a late night. Cooking this chutney, which doesn’t require much once it’s already on the stove, proves to be an unexpectedly soothing experience. It becomes a nice way to just clear my head — a true respite from all the social engagement required of you when dining out.
Not that I didn’t relish in all my impeccably and professionally prepared and serviced meals for the past three days, but just that it was a lot to be "on" for so much of the day. In a way, being waited on is not just an exertion of energy from those who attend to you, but also an exertion of the patron to express gratitude, even when genuine.
I can see why Will and Kate are choosing to live as normal of a life as they can, when they still can. The experiences of a royal can be extraordinary, but at the same time, taxing.
One existential crisis later, my chutney is all done.
And it’s good! It has a warm, sweet flavor, and the spices really come through.
I jar it up, and finally go to bed – ready to wake as a commoner once again.