Over the past couple of weeks, I have watched more television than I have in the past year. I am not a sports enthusiast, but I love London and I admire the kind of dedication, drive and talent that wins gold medals. So I have found it impossible not to delight in the phenomenal successes of Team GB. I have been swept up in a sense of Olympic pride that is steeped in an appreciation of cultural diversity: Jessica Ennis and her Jamaican Dad;  Mo Farah  with his Somalian roots; Laura Bechtolsheimer, German-born but British now. This fusion of national, cultural and ethnic origins has reminded me of the power of place: the extent to which identity is forged by where you are now as much as by where you come from.

So it was with a renewed sense of my British identity that I set out to the US office earlier this week. It is always an adventure to visit the team in Cambridge, and to experience Barefoot from ‘the other side’.  Each visit is like a fleeting migration, in which my otherness is reflected back at me every time I speak by the way I see shop vendors, waiters and others clocking ‘Ha! An Englishwoman!’ as they register my accent. This time, the cultural contrast was given a new twist: editorial matters in Barefoot Books, Cambridge are held together magnificently by the combined efforts of Jessica Saint Jean and Kate DePalma. These two ladies had designs on me. Their plan probably had something to do with the fact that Kate was brought up in Tennessee and went to university in Austin, Texas. Fiercely proud of her southern identity, Kate had conspired with Jess to give me an experience that was as southern as it gets in New England. So it was that after work on Wednesday, I was swept away in Kate’s car to a Cambridge hinterland and to my first experience of a Texan diner. ‘Oh, man!’ as they say on this side of the water. It was a night of many firsts: peanuts are not, in my experience, usually served in the kind of buckets from which you feed horses; the humble onion is not so artfully deep-fried as to be transformed into the culinary equivalent of a prize-winning dahlia; chicken is not presented in such colossal portions that it overlaps a large-sized dinner plate; dinner is not usually interrupted by line-dancing in the aisles (an activity my American colleagues describe as ‘honky-tonk’).  It was a memorable adventure, and do you know what? It was the busiest restaurant I have ever visited on a mid-week night out in New England. Gold medals all round.

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