Edinburgh diary: In which hangover food is required

Nicky Woolf knows the best spots for a morning-after pick-me-up.

August 12. Day five.

Hungover is the basic state for mornings at the Edinburgh Festival. They are as inevitable as the rain. It's probably possible to catch one without even having drunk anything, so intense is the atmosphere of morning-after pain that sits on the city like a black cloud each morning. But the show must go on, and Edinburgh has a number of places that specialise in hangover-curing curries or coffees to cut through the morning fog. Here are a few of the best.

Mosque Kitchen is a festival staple, a real life-saver. It started out as a tiny curry kitchen round the back of the Edinburgh Central Mosque on Potterow, doling out big steaming dollops of curry (meat, chicken, or vegetable), and rice and dahl on paper plates. It's the hangover nuclear option – and now they've opened a second premises, on Nicholson Square, to cope with their ever-growing demand from the suffering masses. You have not truly been to the Fringe unless you've indulged your hangover craving and binged on Mosque Kitchen curry.

Sometimes, some mornings, one simply has a pie-shaped hole in one's life. The Piemaker, on South Bridge fills that hole.

Walking in to 10 To 10 In Delhi is like entering a different world; a little slice of India in the middle of Edinburgh. The smell of spices fills the air, red and gold drapes adorn inviting seats, and the atmosphere is dreamy, somehow unreal. Their masala chai is all made fresh and to-order, and is a genuinely life-changing experience. After a couple of sips, no day after any kind of night before seems insurmountable.

Oink on Victoria Street, just off the Royal Mile, boasts enormous Scottish hog-roast sandwiches and nothing else, with a choice of either haggis or sage and onion stuffing. The rolls come in three sizes; the Piglet, the Oink, and the Grunter, and the crackling is the best you will ever taste.

It's difficult to spot Spoon. It's a bit of a secret, with its hidden-away entrance, but this airy and first-floor cafe, with it's eclectic décor, healthy sandwiches and home-made soups, is always a great breakfast option.

Last, but absolutely not least, Black Medicine is Edinburgh's most famous coffee shop. Free wi-fi, a large range of generously-filled ciabattas and bagels, custom wooden furniture and a bustling atmosphere all play second fiddle to some seriously amazing coffee. The place is aptly-named; the coffee is genuinely medicinal.

 

A performer at the Udderbelly venue. Chances are, he's hungover. Photograph: Getty Images.

Nicky Woolf is a writer for the Guardian based in the US. He tweets @NickyWoolf.

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Would the BBC's Nazi drama SS-GB have felt half so resonant a year ago?

This alternate history is freighted with meaning now we're facing the wurst-case scenario. 

Would SS-GB have felt half so resonant a year ago? Though the clever-after-the-fact Nostradamus types out there might disagree, I can’t believe that it would. When it comes to the Second World War, after all, the present has helpfully stepped in where memory is just beginning to leave off. The EU, in the process of fragmenting, is now more than ever powerless to act in the matter of rogue states, even among its own membership. In case you hadn’t noticed, Hungary, for instance, is already operating as a kind of proto-fascist state, led by Viktor Orbán, a man whom Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, jokingly likes to call “the dictator” – and where it goes, doubtless others will soon follow.

The series (Sundays, 9pm), adapted from Len Deighton’s novel, is set in 1941 in a Britain under Nazi occupation; Winston Churchill has been executed and the resistance is struggling to hold on to its last strongholds in the countryside. Sam Riley plays Douglas Archer, a detective at Scotland Yard, now under the control of the SS, and a character who appears in almost every scene. Riley has, for an actor, a somewhat unexpressive face, beautiful but unreadable. Here, however, his downturned mouth and impassive cheekbones are perfect: Archer, after all, operates (by which I mean, barely operates) in a world in which no one wants to give their true feelings away, whether to their landlady, their lover, or their boss, newly arrived from Himmler’s office and as Protestant as all hell (he hasn’t used the word “degenerate” yet, but he will, he will).

Archer is, of course, an ambiguous figure, neither (at present) a member of the resistance nor (we gather) a fully committed collaborator. He is – or so he tells himself – merely doing his job, biding his time until those braver or more foolhardy do something to restore the old order. Widowed, he has a small boy to bring up. Yet how long he can inhabit this dubious middle ground remains to be seen. Oskar Huth (Lars Eidinger), the new boss, is keen to finish off the resistance; the resistance, in turn, is determined to persuade Archer to join its cause.

It’s hard to find fault with the series; for the next month, I am going to look forward to Sunday nights mightily. I would, I suppose, have hoped for a slightly more charismatic actress than Kate Bosworth to play Barbara Barga, the American journalist who may or may not be involved with the British resistance. But everything else seems pretty perfect to me. London looks suitably dirty and its inhabitants’ meals suitably exiguous. Happiness is an extra egg for tea, smoking is practically a profession, and
the likes of Archer wear thick, white vests.

Swastikas adorn everything from the Palace of Westminster to Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace is half ruined, a memorial to what the Germans regard as Churchill’s folly, and the CGI is good enough for the sight of all these things to induce your heart to ache briefly. Nazi brutality is depicted here as almost quotidian – and doubtless it once was to some. Huth’s determination to have four new telephone lines installed in his office within the hour is at one end of this horrible ordinariness. At the other is the box in which Archer’s mutinous secretary Sylvia (Maeve Dermody) furiously stubs out her fag, full to the brim with yellow stars.

When I first heard about The Kettering Incident (Tuesdays, 12.20am; repeated Wednesdays, 10pm) I thought someone must have found out about that thing that happened one time I was driving north on the M1 with a more-than-usually terrible hangover. Turns out it’s a new Australian drama, which comes to us on Sky Atlantic. Anna (Elizabeth Debicki), a doctor working in London, pitches up back in Tasmania many years after her teenage friend Gillian disappeared into its Kettering forest, having seen a load of mysterious bright lights. Was Gillian abducted by aliens or was she, as some local people believe, murdered by Anna? To be honest, she could be working as a roadie for Kylie, for all I care. This ponderous, derivative show is what happens when a writer sacrifices character on the altar of plot. The more the plot thickens, the more jaw-achingly tedious it becomes.

Rachel Cooke trained as a reporter on The Sunday Times. She is now a writer at The Observer. In the 2006 British Press Awards, she was named Interviewer of the Year.

This article first appeared in the 24 February 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The world after Brexit