Live like a local.
We decided to go to a little hole in the wall this morning. Beppe’s Café, Smithfield,
The place itself resembles a small old U.S. diner in the Midwest with less space. We were immediately greeted and asked if we were staying or taking away. We looked on to see if there was even space for us to sit, we did find a spot in the back = Staying.
I was surprised to find an interesting hulloumi sandwich with avocado so I ordered it – “please add an egg”. He laughed and replied, “American’s are quite particular about your eggs, and how exactly do you want it?” He followed up with the fact that Brits have “runny or hard” – period. Of course, we ordered “over medium”.
The meal came and it was flavorful, fresh, and delicious! Everything was home cooked and clearly family owned, charmingly old school… and then to top it off… we looked around and saw some seriously private unique and personal memorabilia… we struck up a conversation and the rest is history, so they say.
We were served by the founder’s grandson, he was conscientious and delightful. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that the owner and his daughter were also there. Suddenly, the FAMILY run place came alive. The owner, no other than Giuseppe's son, began to talk about the history of the restaurant. (Restaurant opened in 1932). Who knew it would soon turn into the best audio to which one could listen. I sat memorized hearing his memories of WWII. The stories were vivid, then the emotions ran deep, tears came, and we his audience, were on the edge of our seats. He spoke about his father getting sent away to The Isle of Man because Mussolini entered the war. After that Churchill ordered all Germans, Austrians and Italians to be rounded up and placed in camps. We don’t understand exactly why his mother and sister were allowed to stay in London and run the restaurant but this wasn’t the time to interrupt. He and his brother were sent away to families, in the countryside, willing to house and feed them. They lined them up and families would pick whom they wanted. They were the last to be picked and he was separated from his brother until he made such a fuss they relented and sent him to live with his brother’s family. Not sure that was a good choice since the mother of the house was an alcoholic. As he tells his story you could feel the emotions rising, as if they happened yesterday, the memories were so clear. It wasn’t in a book I read for book club, now it seemed so personal. He told of how the “doodlebug’s” descended down around them… how he and his brother would hear the spitting of the flying bombs as they ran and hid – then the extended silence until the delayed… BOOM – and they were so grateful it hadn’t exploded on THEM. They were safe, this time.
I wish I could have anticipated what we were about to witness because I would have done a better job of capturing the story on video… how is one to know, preemptively, when a special moment would occur? More importantly, how is one to video without disrupting the moment, and how long can you video from a phone? We felt quite honored to be privy of being at the right place at the right time. If you are interested in listening for a few minutes, I’ve included snippets of my history lesson, unfortunately, you won’t get the full experience unless you come yourself and introduce yourself to him. He’s the kind of man who would love to meet you.
I have chosen to put this, restaurant, in the section of what I recommend. You can reference it there, if you are ever in London yourself and want to go.
talking about the evacuation of the Italians...
Video describing how the children would play in the bombed out areas and his memory of them filling them with water so they could better fight fires but children would drown, so they had to stop doing that.
This is a longer video .... various topics: The flying bombs, the Smithfield market, the rooftop playgrounds, Old Ballie, etc....
The telling of the family that took he and his brother, and it brought back emotional memories.
Don't take life so seriously.
I'm Jody. I love to travel. I love to take pictures. I love to meet people and find interesting places. I also love to write about and post pix of what I've found. But, I've been told that I write like I talk - in streams of consciousness. So, if proper grammar and well composed sentences are a must for you - my posts will make you crazy. If you want to follow my journey as I learn about really cool places and offer some great tips about living abroad, read on!