Fortunately we no longer live in a world where most people believe their own culture to be better than or superior to those of others.
It is true we cheer on our football or rugby team, wave a flag, maybe even sing our National Anthem. Nothing wrong with that. But generally speaking we tend to respect other nationalities, take some interest in their ways and have a genuine desire to learn about them and to share in the things they do that make them stand out as different and, by our own standards, exotic.
But even in today’s cosmopolitan, metropolitan world there are two distinct cultures in evidence where the twain shall surely never meet. In our cities, in our eating houses and drinking establishments, two separate and quite contrasting behavioural norms compete for the cultural high ground.
I refer, of course, to those who like to eat whilst they are drinking, and those who prefer to drink whilst they are eating. Those who would accuse the writer of pedantry must invariably fail to appreciate the dynamic of the conflict. Indeed it is a veritable struggle for the soul of civilisation in our inner cities and suburbs.
The eating whilst drinking tendency have a clear sense of priorities. They drink in quantity, sometimes preferring to stand rather than sit, by so doing giving themselves cause to cling tenaciously to their glasses lest they be taken away before they are empty, knocked over or become otherwise estranged from their rightful owners. Between gulps the palate is placated with offerings of pork scratchings, pickled onions, salty nuts of various kinds and severally flavoured crisps. In Spain they call it tapas, in England bar snacks. But the real business of the evening remains in the glass.
The other tendency is focused primarily on the food and, having ordered a sumptuous meal from a menu so colourful and appealing that it could almost be enjoyed as a starter, then and only then does the imbiber move on to choose carefully from a wide range of fine wines and beers from all the four corners of the earth.
At Eco, the popular Clapham restaurant, we are not judgemental. We always remember and appreciate that there is a time for sitting eating, and a time for standing drinking. Variety is what makes the world such a wonderful place.
But culturally we are very much about food. Washed down of course by the most delicious and enjoyable wines, beers or coffees, of all of which we have choices in abundance.
And when it comes to quality of course, you are free to sing our praises and wave our banner because you know we will always be the winning team.