Rob Rinder: The secret to a truly delightful capital city? Kosher restaurants and cannabis Doritos

·3-min read
 (Natasha Pszenicki)
(Natasha Pszenicki)

Last week I was in glorious New York City. I’m especially delighted to report that over there (just like here) things are meandering their way back to normal. The mood is bouncier and jollier and altogether less lockdown-y. Between meetings, I decided to look up an old American pal, a friend I’d made a quarter-century ago at Jewish summer camp (heavy emphasis on the “camp” in my case). This gorgeous friend could’ve been designed in a lab to make Jewish mothers happy (oy, but he’d get their chicken soup boiling): perfect manners, all his teeth and not just a doctor, but “noch” a professor of medicine at Yale.

I asked if he could recommend a good deli for lunch. There are hundreds, he said, and reeled off his top 10. I picked one and we headed to the Upper West Side for herring and lox and pickles — all my kosher favourites. It was eye-wateringly good, like there was a bar mitzvah in my mouth and centuries of ancestors were dancing on my tastebuds.

It all made me reflect for a bit on how closely Jewish food is interwoven with New York culture. In London, there’s a clutch of great kosher restaurants, but going always feels like an event — a step out of the ordinary city. With fewer than 300,000 Jews in the whole of the UK and anti-Jewish racism mainstreamed in past years it has even felt threatening to go to them. In New York, it feels perfectly natural and utterly integrated.

It’s one of the things I’ll sadly miss back home.

In other news...

London should follow New York’s lead in legalising cannabis

I’ve never fully settled my mind on the legalisation of cannabis. It’s been one of those debates where until now, I’ve not been fully convinced by either side. It’s like asking if Rishi Sunak is sexy — there’s lots of sensible arguments either way. But after years sitting on the fence, my trip to New York has made up my mind on the cannabis question — I believe it’s time for London to take its first steps towards legalisation.

You see, cannabis is now legalised in the Big Apple and I’ve seen that it can work. I was only there a week, but I’m sure I would have noticed if the city had become the zombified, munchie-guzzling netherworld that people fear. In fact, it’s thriving, and — far from destroying the place— cannabis has been efficiently folded into everyday life: regulated and taxed and given a charming New York spin. It’s a delight to observe American ingenuity interacting with a newly legalised product. You can apparently buy cannabis-infused anything, from doughnuts to Doritos to Mom’s apple pie. Not only that, but there’s a hefty quantity of tax coming in.

So (with sufficient safeguards for the vulnerable) I believe it’s time for us to do the same. I can’t wait till they start adding cannabis to Calippos and Monster Munch.

Dog-sitting options have reached decadent heights

While I was crunching through pickles and giggling through nachos, I needed someone to look after my darling bulldog Rocco.

As long as you’re willing to drop a solid wedge of cash, it seems dog-sitting options have reached decadent heights, with some walkers starting at £50 for an hour’s ambling. For the right sum, I don’t doubt I could have got Rocco a squad of staff to buff and fluff him, serve a 10-course tasting menu and provide guided meditation before bed.

Happily, I’ve got a lovely (affordable) dog-whisperer for Rocco but it does make me wonder about a society willing to spend so much more on pets than on, say, our kids. A dog’s life? We should all be so lucky.

Do you think London should legalise cannabis? Let us know in the comments below.

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