Around three years ago, my friends and I all started to migrate up to London from Kent as we began to find gainful employment.
Leaving the nest and striking out on one’s own is a time of mixed emotions and an inevitable shedding of the rituals that make up a person’s informative years. The ritual list that springs to mind for me personally, is in a loose chronological order below:
1. Honing my mad skills during endless hours of Mario Kart, Tiger Woods Golf & FIFA
2. Drinking too much in the Meadow
3. Going underage to The Dorset for £1 Happy Hour pints before Bar Med
4. Being just shy of 18 and the law tightening up. Spending many an evening playing Risk, LOTR Risk, once Godstorm Risk and drinking Fosters
5. Becoming 18 and going to SOS masochistically every Thursday night after work at Zizzi’s
Apart from point 1 (I just yesterday spent five hours trying to take West Ham to the Europa League, only to be unceremoniously sacked after my final home defeat to Man City), I don’t take part in any of these activities anymore. Why would I do point 2, when I could drink at a house, bar or legally in a decent open space?
If you can find me somewhere that sells £1 pints in London, I’d happily do point 3. Point 4, we can never seem to find the time for our marathon 24 hour sessions. Point 5, well SOS is awful. And we of course knew that back then as well.
And yet, at the time of each of these I could not imagine there being a better or more important way to spend my time. I suppose that is just part of growing up.
HOWEVER, there was one ritual that we were not happy to allow to go quietly into the night…
We’ve seen more than our fair share of curry house come and go in Sevenoaks over the years. My earliest memories of a mouthful of Korma came from the Asia Cuisine, a cracking little place that we frequented for many years. It eventually became Oaks Spice and slipped into the background, at least for my family.
I’ll always remember ordering a curry for the first time with my friends, rather than parents. I would put it down to one of those understated moments in life when the penny drops that your family way of life may not be the only way of doing things as your friend starts to confidently order a Sheekh Kebab to precede a main course. As if settling down to a normal meal.
“What do you mean a starter AND a main course?” you utter, aghast. “Surely, we put it all in the middle and just share?”
He looks back at you, perplexed, as if you have just started speaking in tongues. “No,” he starts, in a tone smeared with disdain for your heathen ways, “you get kebabs and bhajis, followed by a main course each. Obviously.”
You may agree with either (or neither) of these methods but I would put forward that these types of disputes is what makes a curry great. In my opinion, its a communal and shared experience above and beyond any other meal.
And if its not the food, its the passionate debate over which curry house reigns supreme. Evidently in Sevenoaks, it is the Raj Bari with its quirky staff, Celine Dion pan-pipe music, gaudy fish tank and delicious Xacuti.
However, some plebs might argue for the Spice Club with its swanky interior, impersonal service but (I will concede) very, very good food.
I digress though. Back to the point of this article, it became clear that on moving to London we had lost the nuclei of our curry universes. With that, not only did we lose the great food but also a time that was often carved out for us to sit around and properly catch up over a meal, rather than in an increasingly blurry evening out at a bar or club.
To paraphase our old school motto, ‘Ex Fumo Dare Lucem’. It was out of this absence that Curry Club was born, with its first meeting coming together on 7th July 2011 at Tandoori Nights on Lordship Lane, East Dulwich. The initial skirmish was attended by only four members (myself, Boxing Steve, Pedro, Simian) but a constitution-of-sorts was quickly drawn up:
– Curry Club would convene on the first Thursday of every month
– Each time a member would host the event (selecting a pre-pub, a curry house and a post-bar)
– Each attendee would score one point, a host would score two
– Only one host per member per season
– No WAGs
– No Brick Lane
– At the end of each season, the member with the most points would be deemed Curry Ace
I upload now the first season’s (11-12) write ups. Please note that nearly all of these were written on a squalid hangover and may be a little peculiar.
We were a bit lapse in 12-13, but will be returning for our inaugural Curry Club Winter Formal in early December. Black tie mandatory, of course.