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Food: Occupy dinner

26 November 2011

1:00 PM

26 November 2011

1:00 PM

What to say about Occupy London? I support it, because I always judge a movement by the quality of its enemies, and also because its position at St Paul’s cathedral makes a certain type of writer wander around, pondering, ‘What would Jesus do about Occupy?’ There have been many articles asking ‘What would Jesus do about Occupy?’ The answer, of course, is very simple. Jesus (or rather Joshua) of Nazareth was Jewish. So, when faced with any problem, including the implosion of the global financial system and the erection of lots of tents near St Paul’s cathedral, he’d eat something. He’d eat something anyway. The Bible is full of stories of Jesus stuffing his face. That the Bible does not have him saying ‘Don’t fill up on bread’ at the Last Supper is merely, in my view, an editorial omission.

So, Jesus would go to the restaurant at Occupy (I am guessing it is called Occupy, although there is no sign) and eat something. It is ­definitely a restaurant, not a kitchen, because there is a tin for collecting money and if you turn up and take a plate, they feed you. It is a big tent, open to the night, with a large bunch of flowers tied to a pole; they do floristry. There are no tables, which is a flaw in any restaurant, but you can sit in another tent called The ­Republic of Sofas and listen to other people’s opinions because there is very little to do at Occupy except listen to other people’s opinions. It seems to be run by a large man named Jamie, who calls everyone ‘Princess’. He sits behind the tin and does a sort of passive-aggressive dance with me as I ask questions; yes, no, yes. It is already more visceral than Scott’s.


I get in line and take a plastic ice-cream box, which is filled with pork soup and some very posh bread by a smiling occupier; in the City, there is no escape from very posh bread, even if you wish to annihilate the regime that bakes it. The soup is too disgusting to eat or even describe; it would kill A.A. Gill. I consider walking out, which would be easy, because there is no door, and people would assume I was merely devastated by some new act of hyper-capitalism. Instead, I wander around and listen to the other diners. ‘Evil comes from Babylon,’ says one. ‘Boris Johnson shows leadership and judgment,’ says another.

Occupy does several dishes a night. Back to the line, which now includes council workers and a very smart woman in black. She is here in solidarity and also because she is hungry, because the more hungry you are, the more you feel solidarity, as Marx and others have pointed out. A family from north London arrive with their pale, dark-haired children, who are unaware that this is a very politicised restaurant and so would probably rather be in Pizza Hut. The potato stew is wonderful — thin, light and lemony. The salad — spinach, mushrooms, baby onions and baby tomatoes — is also faultless. A.A. Gill would come back to life.

Most restaurants that believe they are edgy are not edgy at all, but are in denial; they actually run screaming from the edge and are, therefore, very boring. But here at Occupy, you never know if your restaurant is going to be demolished, or simply interviewed by the New Statesman. Also, the diners sometimes attack each other, or else bystanders attack them. Over my beef curry, for instance, I can see two men wrestling over a bottle of booze until the police arrive. ‘Take pictures!’ says someone. ‘Don’t take pictures!’ says someone else, because the left can never agree on anything. ­Another man pauses. ‘This is disgusting!’ he screams. Because this is Occupy, he could be talking about anything.


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