The Toon's food culture: Better then London?

Our Food and Drink sub-editor Marcel, shares with us his farewell letter to Newcastle's food scene

Marcel Shamshoum
29th June 2022
Tyne Bridge, Newcastle/ Image: flickr
You could think of this as my farewell letter to Newcastle or, more like an appreciation article to the toon – because I’ll definitely be back visiting.

Three years ago, I stepped into a city that I barely knew, except for the football club, other than that I didn’t even know where Newcastle was on the map. Nevertheless, something pushed me to come here for uni, call it instinct, call it a weird feeling, I don’t know! But here I am three years later, getting ready to leave this city with a heavy heart.

As a big foodie, I was ecstatic when I knew that the student newspaper, the Courier had a food section. Little did I know, it was also its first year being introduced to the newspaper. Since then, I have been a loyal contributor to the courier’s food section and – yup, now I’m one of its food sub-editors.  

I have been invested in exploring the food scene around the city

Throughout my three years in Newcastle I have been invested in exploring the food scene around the city, even during the various lockdowns. Though I must admit, Newcastle isn’t really famed for its food culture, at least to the outside world. But after living, experiencing and seeing what this city has to offer, I am confident that the toon has the potential to compete with the world’s major food capitals such as London and Paris. And I am not saying this because I’ve lived in this city for three years and it has treated me with the utmost welcome and hospitality, it’s because the city deserves the recognition in the most genuine way possible.  

If there is one thing I’ve learned about Newcastle’s food scene is the abundance of local, independent establishments, which in my view is the perfect recipe for uniqueness and exceptionality. One might suggest that this is probably due to the fact that Newcastle is a small city compared to London, Manchester or Birmingham, and you might be correct. However, now I feel Newcastle is attracting tourists more than ever, and it is growing. Maintaining this character of independency in terms of its food and drinks establishment must continue without being influenced.

In a previous article, I talked about how inclusivity and integration of the various cultures within the local community can enhance the food repertoire of any city. At the time I was criticizing Paris for the lack of integration. But here, I admire and praise the North’s capital for its great adaptation of cultures, which often in small cities is rare. The toon today is ornamented with restaurants from around the world, you name it we have it – Italian? Got it. Lebanese? Also got it. Turkish? Most definitely we have it. Chinese? Japanese? Thi? Korean? Name anything, it is there! And note this, nearly most of them provide high quality cooking, many of which are exceptional.

So, my last message to this wonderful city, hold on tight and be proud of this unique identity you have, because you are on your way to be among the high culinary capitals.

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