This week, it’s the contentious subject of foodstuffs. Practical solution to the endemic crime of celebrity chefs also included at no extra cost, along with convincing dystopian alternative for those who prefer their lunch to take three minutes and come from a pot.
A little while back, I wrote a short piece about food on another blog platform when I was attempting to find my voice. It was deliberately confrontational and probably a touch derivative, the main thrust being that food is, in essence, merely petrol to keep us all alive in order to do far greater things than the act of eating itself. This would have been apposite if written in the 1970s (or indeed earlier), when the greater irony may well have been appreciated by frequenters of those appalling trattorias, nascent curry houses and stick-in-the-mud bastions of public school cuisine. But it wasn’t.
Over the last twenty years or so, we have morphed into a nation of foodies. Suddenly, every man and his dog has developed a palate that subtle, it would leave Abigail and her guests floundering like jetsam at one of her soirées. We demand choice and quality as standard (despite having come through the worst recession since WW2) and, more than ever, we require affirmation that our opinions are justified. Why so?
Because our newly-found appreciation of all things gastronomic is nothing more than the emperor’s new clothes. We food snobs, like wine snobs, know deep down that our honed interest in the ephemeral is pretty low down on the pecking order of things that actually matter. Consequently, in much the same way that our current government operates, we surround ourselves with like-minded sycophants who will be the first to forgive us for thinking that it does. So when the bill payer clicks his/her fingers at a chain restaurant minion and they come running, no-one from either camp dares question the validity of the challenge. Money talks, deafeningly when there isn’t much around, and putting an opinionated Herbert to rights is probably not worth losing your job for.
But it is a wafer-thin confidence, to be annihilated absolutely in the not too distant future by global events, the seething aficionados of packaged goods, and common sense. I predict a time when all celebrity chefs are dragged by the hair from their culinary idylls, thrown into the stocks and pelted to death with every last leaf of kale, lollo rosso and organically-farmed, locally-sourced cucumber that inevitably ended its days in the recycling bin. When coffee houses, like televisions in the 1950s, only offer black and white as an option, and if anyone with a manicured moustache demands anything with more than one syllable, they too will be executed on-site in the manner of Charles I and their remains fed to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s pigs. And when the beasts of Smithfield, at the point of their bloody departure from this world to the restaurants of St John Street, are given the option to turn the tables, they do so on the sole condition that they feast exclusively on their perpetrators.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the future.
Let’s talk cheese. Why the hell not? It’s a staple. Good, honest fare made by farmers and Blur and consumed in quantity by the French, West Country types and yours truly. Soft on the palate and hard on arteries, this formidable foodstuff has done the rounds for centuries and is showing no signs of letting up any time soon. So it came as no small surprise to learn that sleb chef Anthony Worrall Thompson has sullied the reputation of our dairy doyen by popping into Tesco in Henley-on-Thames and nicking it. For Heaven’s sake man, get a grip! Now, clearly Tony feels the same about the Empire of Evil as I do but really, cheese and discounted coleslaw? My heart actually bleeds for the guy so I thought I’d use my Bro-given platform to offer him a little assistance for the future:
- First rule of shoplifting: Always shoot above your status. There’s very little point in doing time for sandwich fillings, no matter how much quality bubbly you wash them down with.
- Second rule of shoplifting: Never admit culpability. Ever. Even if they find you with a boot full of hooky lager and an empty petrol tank, you hold your head up high and come on all Penelope Keith. It’s the British way. None of this ‘Oooh sorry, I’m a klepto, I’ll make amends’ crap, it’s balls out, chest in or bust. Either that or think very hard about the products you have stolen and seek culinary advice. From a celebrity chef, perhaps?
Speaking of cheeses, Nibs brought over a selection from the Idle Hour last week. You know the sort of thing, a NASA-funded one that removes the roof of your mouth, another so creamy it should be ‘R’ rated, some blue, some borrowed etc.. And, it must be said, they were outstanding. All of them. In case you’re wondering, yes, the Alex James one made an appearance, woo hoo! It’s called ‘Blue Monday’ for all you Eighties throwbacks out there, it’s made in Kingham, Oxfordshire and apparently it’s eye-wateringly expensive. Of course it is: The man drank a million quids worth of champagne in three years, he’s got to claw it back somehow.
Hang about, I’ve just come up with a solution. No win, no fee, and it works like this: Tony, you load up the Bentley with the three crates of champers you actually paid for and head over to Alex’s in Kingham (it’s not far from your manor, I checked on Google Maps). In exchange for these, Alex will donate as much Blue Monday as he can squeeze into the boot and/or passenger footwells because he laaavs abitavit! (BTW first check whether he’ll bung in a bit of cheap slaw on the side). Then, when you’ve sorted your respective addictions, head on over to the Idle Hour for a conciliatory slap-up where Nibs will show you both how it’s done proper.
Honestly, I blame the parents.