London’s favourite gal about town, Natalia Ribbe - radio presenter, Ladies of Restaurants co-founder, and all round food-obsessive - talks new beginnings, couch surfing, and finding comfort in a very English tradition.
“When I first moved to London from the U.S., almost 6 years ago, I stayed with my best friend from high school, Olga. I knew nothing about the neighbourhoods in London, or the amount of time it takes to get between neighbourhoods... I was looking for a job and I was looking for a place to live and I felt like I was constantly rushing all over the city - it was all very overwhelming you know, a bit exhausting. Even though I come from New York, it was still very scary.
So I would get home, or I would be on the couch wondering if everything was ever gonna come together, and Olga would make me a cup of tea - something we don’t really have so much in the U.S. And I remember, very specifically, that it was PG Tips. So every day she made me tea with a little bit of milk and a little bit of sugar and then we would have Ryvita with butter and Marmite and we would chat. That little ritual, the warm mug of tea, was very English, which was different for me, and it was a small thing but it just felt very comforting.
It took me a really long time to find a place to live, as it does in London, you know it’s just this horrible task! And when I finally did, that tea with marmite and ryvita was one of the first snacks that I made, and it immediately helped me feel settled in my new flat. It just brought back that cosy, comfortable feeling of being around my friends.
And then, two years later, when I moved out of that flat I found myself couch-surfing again for another two months - it was like life repeating itself! - and I stayed with another friend, she did the exact same thing, only this time the tea was Tetley's! And so now, even 6 years on, every time I have a PG Tips or a Tetley’s it brings me right back to that time of my life - to that feeling of being new to London, of finding my feet in this new city, but also this familiar thing of being comforted by this warm cup of tea and that cosy, comfortable feeling of being around my friends.”
- Natalia Ribbe