I’m not sure if I’ve shared this on my blog, but I’ve been volunteering at the London Olympics. I know the Olympics have been quite controversial amongst Londoners, with the amount of money that’s being put into into it at a time when really good services have been cut (and trust me, I say this as someone who works in the women’s sector.) But I’m also a big believer in the ability of sport to be a force for political good in the world. I think of Jesse Owens making a mockery of Hitler’s theories of Aryan supremacy, I think of London in 1948 trying to heal the wounds left by what was most definitely a world-wide war, I think of Australian Peter Norman coming together with Tommie Smith and John Carlos to say that no, actually, it wasn’t ok to take pride in your countrymen’s achievements in the Olympics and then to oppress them back home (political statements are specifically banned at the Olympics, but unlike the Olympic organisers, I think they make the strongest memories.)
London’s had an amazing feeling these few weeks, with people wiling to pitch in and help out strangers, as well as hardened Londoners talking to each other on the tube about results of the sports and it’s been something I’ve been excited to be a part of.
Since this is a food blog, I thought I’d share my Olympic experience through the food. So, obviously, I have to start with this:
Ladies and gentlemen: the world’s largest McDonald’s. It’s fairly central in Olympic Park, right near the Olympic Stadium. Interestingly, the restaurant is off limits to volunteers and employees and I have it on good authority that the athletes have no interest in setting foot in there, so it’s purely a spectator hangout. See the queue as well..
Here’s some of the food served in the canteen – it was quite hit or miss. Some days it was good (see the below food of vegetarian chili), some days it was horrible. Most days, however, it reminded me of the food in my university’s food hall: semi-decent if mass produced! The real upside to being in the canteen was the atmosphere: the shouts of joy when Nicola Adams won gold and all the staff got on their feet! No one loved the Olympic Games the way the Gamesmakers did!
I had to kick myself to remember I was really at Olympic Park.
Spectators got the more culturally representative (if more pricey!) food over at World Square, which you can see over the backdrop of the Aquatics Centre.
As you know I can’t resist cupcakes, I stopped by Buttercup Cake Shop in Westfied Stratford. Westfield was pretty cool during the Olympics. Most “normal” people were avoiding it, so pretty much everyone walking around was somehow involved with the Games, whether as a spectator, Gamesmaker or athlete. But what really caught my eyes was the shop had made different country cupcakes for the Olympics!
I loved that. Beardy boyfriend tried the red velvet (as there was no Irish cupcake, he had to settle for American!) and I tried the rosewater. Now, I will be honest, I tried rosewater because I’ve been having trouble finding a cupcake which had a taste of rosewater. It’s a really difficult ingredient to use, as it can easily be just a bit too subtle! This cupcake didn’t disappoint (particularly in the delicious buttercream frosting!), but I’m still not sure how particular I am to rosewater now (although they did a great job of using it and any rosewater fan should enjoy!)
It’s been an amazing experience to be a Gamesmaker and one which I’m disappointed is coming to an end. Anyone else been eating anything interesting during the Olympics?