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London Restaurants Take Their Support for Free School Meals to Instagram

For the second week running, the app is a space for protest and community outreach in the restaurant world

Quality Chop House in Farringdon was among those London restaurants attempting to compensate for the failure of government food policy
Quality Chop House in Farringdon was among those London restaurants attempting to compensate for the failure of government food policy
Quality Chop House/Instagram

Welcome back to Insta Stories, a column examining the London restaurant scene through the often-problematic medium of Instagram. This week’s filter is Salt, Fat, Acid, Yeet.

News of the week

‘Instagram becomes a viable tool of political protest” was probably not high on most people’s list of predictions for 2020, but this absolute barnstormer of an annus horribilis is nothing if not surprising. This time round — last time round was exactly seven days ago — it’s the free school meals farrago that has come into the spotlight, with any number of London’s already-embattled restaurants literally giving away food and calling into question a government — and its constituent MPs — that can pull the all-time Montgomery Burns flex that is not feeding hungry children whilst enjoying a publicly subsidised pressed duck leg and caper terrine. All in all, excellent.

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To anyone who knows me I’m a mother first, then a chef and restaurant owner. This pandemic has truly been a strain on all for reasons we cannot control but what we can easily control is food poverty, especially child food poverty. My MP @theresamay (not surprisingly) has let me down and this goverment has broken my heart. Yesterday I broke down at work because I couldn’t handle the idea that any family is struggling to eat during this pandemic, let alone a child missing out on their one hot meal a day. For this, I will be at @meimeilondon in @boroughmarket between (11am-2pm) Mon-Fri for next weeks half term, providing free children hot meals and packed lunches, and for those families in need - a box of ready prepared dinners for the freezer. Just request for a “happy holiday” and no questions asked as it’s not my business but please respect those in need and let’s put an #endchildfoodpoverty For those who might know someone in need please share this with them, or wish to donate for this please hit our gofundme page in our profile link, DM or get in touch via info@meimei.uk Thank you to everyone who has got in touch today. Wed love to have lots of helping hands but we simply can’t allow people outside of our support bubble into the kitchen without COVID testing. Finding and linking us with schools/kids in need / packets or drivers are most useful right now.

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Damaged gourds of the week

The legit scariest Halloween in history is just a few days away — on the docket, just the minor matters of a global pandemic and a nation-era-culture-defining US election — which of course is bad news for the country’s pumpkins. Here’s how some of them ended up.

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Pumpkin pie

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Opening statement of the week

In December 1962, Esquire scribe Cleveland Amory, who was probably being paid, like, five American dollars per word, penned The Decline and Fall of Breakfast, a masterpiece of what would subsequently become known as concern-trolling on the subject of how it was no longer possible, anywhere in the US, “to get a good, whole, old, oldfashioned breakfast.” It has aged not unlike a good whole, old, oldfashioned gallon of milk, but still raises an interesting point: for a meal that occurs when a great many people are still not properly awake, breakfast has always been mired in some form of existential crisis, whether it be the decline of the bacchanalian feast that Amory describes, or the sugary cereal / carcinogenic bacon panics of more recent times. And yet all the signs are there that breakfast might, in fact, be in stronger shape than at any time in history. Perhaps it’s fuelled by Instagram, perhaps it’s the other way round. Perhaps it’s just a coping mechanism for people looking to defer the bone-jarring effort that it takes to be alive in anno domini 2020. But the most important meal of the day has never felt so present.

Heartwarming account of the week

Presenting @_naturalstitches, a concept – embroidery, but make it natural wine labels – so specific to a time and place in hand-made, low-intervention fashion that if it didn’t exist VICE would have to invent it like they did with that fake restaurant. So twee! So niche! And yet also so completely adorable!

Cookbook instruction of the week

Add one Pritt stick of butter.

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Morning! By @palaisdetokyo

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Dish of the week

“Is the spine good?”

“No sir, it’s brill”

Shot of the week

“Is this fish joke going to be any better?”

“It’s a low… bar?”

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