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One of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever had the luck of dining in is a Nando’s restaurant in London. Nestled in between London and Southwark Bridges, it has views of the Thames River and St. Paul’s Cathedral. There are brick walls and arches, and incredible windows. It is like the Oyster Bar at Grand Central only above ground. It is a space dreamed up to be photographed, the type of building where people pay thousands to get married. And in one of the vaulted booths overlooking the Thames, I sat with a group of friends late one Friday night. We were the masters of the universe with a bill under 40 quid. More… “A Dash of Peri-Peri”

Grace Linden is a PhD candidate in art history. Her thesis looks at  New York City’s downtown art scene after 9/11. Grace’s writing has appeared in Catapult, Lenny Letter, andC. Magazine, among others. She currently lives in London.

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It was never my intent to spend $650 on myself, by myself — at lunch, a credit-card-statement reality made all the more painful by the news, weeks later, that the U.S. economy fell off a cliff and that the reliability of my livelihood had suddenly come into question. I am by all definitions a “foodie,” even though I dislike that term. Yet compared to the foodies who got me into the situation of spending such a lavish and obscene amount of money on a meal for one, I am a but a lightweight, a middling palate, a common snacker.

Yet even if the slight sting of buyer’s remorse would last months — indeed, I still wonder today whether I should have spent that lewd sum — the food high I experienced burned brightly for at least 24 hours and… More…