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Monday June 20, 2011

A taste of Spain, but what about Britain?

Many moons ago I was idly chatting with Ignacio Vasallo, director of the Spanish tourist office, about the possibility of holding a massive Spanish street event in London. A year later, he made it a reality and created A Taste of Spain in Regent Street, a huge annual event which incorporates Spanish culture, food and entertainment. He’s even replicated the idea to great success in Leeds, Liverpool and Edinburgh.

Last Sunday, despite a typical British downpour, thousands of people strolled through Regent Street to witness cavorting sleek black horses from Menorca, flamenco dancing from Andalucía, the making of enormous Valencian paellas and to participate in an interactive sports hall of fame with a chance to try a Formula One simulator and take a virtual motorbike ride around the Jerez racing circuit.

There were guitarists and dancers, and even a Spanish food market selling chorizo, olives, jamon serrano and regional food specialities. In previous years the spectacular Castellers of Catalonia –who form human towers-performed and the largest ever Sevillanas flamenco dance was declared a world record by Guinness officials.

So it got me thinking. If a mini Spain can be created in London, why not a mini Britain in Madrid? I’d value reader input and ideas, but surely Visit Britain-formerly the British Tourist Authority-could have a field day? Consider the English food market, perhaps renamed as Blubber Corner, or Obese Treats? There would be fish and chips, porky scratchings, Cornish pastries, pork pies, Cumberland sausages, cheddar cheeses, scones, jam and clotted cream, Yorkshire pudding, marmite and cucumber sandwiches, and Brighton rock. Scottish delights could include black pudding, haggis and neeps, with contributions from the Welsh in the form of braised leeks, Welsh cakes and scones while the Irish could provide coddle and keep everyone topped up with the black stuff at an open all hours Guinness bar.

There could be Irish, Scottish and Morris dancing, a re-enactment of the Highland games, a comedy hour with the cast of Little Britain, Irish folk music and a harp and singing contest with the Welsh. The sporting arena entitled, ‘Ashes to Ashes’ could include fleeting moments of hope and despair in the World Cup, Champions League, and Wimbledon ending on a high note with a reenactment of the cricket triumph in Australia.

My favourite would be ‘Elf & Safety Corner at which sentimental and historic film footage could be viewed of extinct British traditions such as Dwile Flonking, Pancake racing, conker bashing, cheese rolling and probably soon to go, welly wanging and maypole dancing.

I’ve no doubt missed out on scores of British treats for the first ever A Taste of Britain event. Any ideas to add to the list, anyone?

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