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Thursday, 24 February 2011

Food Writers

Today's rant was inspired by a piece I read in today's i, you know, that new newspaper from The Independent that, according to the commercials where they very hilariously got a Geordie bloke to go "why i?", delivers quality newsly news in bitesize chunks of newsy goodness, and none of that celebrity shizz. I am a big fan of newspapers, because news websites get on my nerves by trying to give me all the news in video clip or user submitted camera phone picture form.

The other day I wanted to know what the skinny was, because a lot of people on my Facebook had statuses that indicated something undesirable had happened in Christchurch - but obviously with this being the usual wanky Facebook "look at me and what a good person I am for caring about those poor people" attention seeking crap for the most part, none of them had indicated what it was that had occurred, or indeed whether it was the Christchurch in New Zealand or the one near Bournemouth where I once had "lobster 'n' chips" in a very nice restaurant. A quick look at the BBC's news website indicated that it was the New Zealand one, and that what had occurred was a particularly bad Earthquake, but that was it. There were untold numbers of photographs of wreckage, but a distinct lack of actual journalism. They say a picture can paint or say or somehow represent or whatever a thousand words, but it can't - at least not useful, factual words of the sort I was looking for.

Newspapers give you the words, but sadly there isn't a single one that isn't in some way annoying, so my solution is to read all of them (except for the Guardian - fuck that). This could get expensive, but happily my local pub gets them so I can read them all for free - win! I like the execution of the new i paper. It is pretty easy to read, and it does fulfil its objective of delivering the news, business and sport stories in as concise a form as possible (well, probably not as concise as would be literally possible - but a lot more concise than say, one of my especially rambling sentences) however it does kind of take away from the thing I enjoy about reading the paper - the fact you can make it last a really long time. I sometimes sound like an old man.

Because of this, after 10 minutes with i I'd caught up on all the news (Gadaffi, eh? What a knob.) and was finding myself drawn to the lighter stories. On the front page (obviously not as the actual front page story because that would be mad, just along the bottom where they tell you what there is inside the paper) is a picture of some tasty looking fried chicken, I mean really tasty looking, some Haribo and some beans on toast, and the promise that inside chefs are going to reveal their guilty pleasures. This sounded quite good. Guilty pleasures, in the food sense, to me would be not the stuff that you know is a bit bad for you but which tastes nice. How boring a life would you have to lead to actually be arsed to have feelings of guilt over a fucking Twix or a packet of Lineker's finest Cheese 'n' Onion. It has to be the really filthy, really wrong stuff you would never want anyone to picture you eating. Stuff like pork pies, or as I like to call them "testicle puddings". With that crunchy, suety, darts player fatty pastry, encasing the grey, gristly meat of the worst parts of the worst pigs (would guinea pig meat still be called pork?), surrounded by that yellowish catfood style jelly - christ knows what that shit is - oh, the testicle pudding is so very wrong. Buying a testicle pudding makes you feel sleazy, like you just shoplifted a copy of Reader's Wives from a newsagents, in Sheffield. But you still eat them because somehow, by some strange alchemy, this object which should be an affront to the sensibilities of a cultured person like you, tastes fucking lovely. It's the same with pork scratchings. That is fried pig skin right there, with chunks of dried up pig fat attached to it. Sometimes you get one with a hair on it. Bloody nice though, aren't they?

So, I was hoping this was going to be right down there in the gutter. Maybe Jamie Oliver would reveal he likes to shovel Doner Kebab flavour Pot Noodle into the space in his mouth that isn't occupied by his gargantuan tongue. Maybe Delia Smith's favourite "cheat" of all is just scarfing down Spam straight out of the tin, seasoned with her own fucking tears. Maybe Ainsley Harriot's eyes are that googly because he accompanies his meals with lashings of Frosty Jack's white cider (that shit where if you drink it, you wake up with a crowd around you). I was expecting it to be a lot better than it was, anyway.

First of all, none of these were people I'd heard of, though next to their names, which were, without exception, ludicrous - one of them was called Gizzi - each was lauded as being either a chef or a food writer or chef cum food writer (sorry, I just like writing "cum", because I am very immature). Each one of them revealed their oh-so-naughty guilty secret, and each one of them made me feel a different shade from the spectrum of violent rage. I wasn't alone - the person I was talking to while reading them asked me when we got on to the bone marrow one (we'll come onto that in just a minute - hope you are feeling suitably teased by the words "bone marrow" there though) if there was blood coming out of his nose. Because it had annoyed him so much he was sure he had had an aneurysm, not because it had annoyed me so much I had lost it and punched him in the face, I mean.

Some of them were just rubbish. One guy, who claimed he had to avoid guilt due to being a Catholic (huh? I thought that was what Catholics ran on? That and gold.) said he liked ice cream - "usually vanilla". Vanilla ice cream. Vanilla. The flavour so plain and generic that it has become a byword for porn where nothing all that dirty happens. How fucking bland can a person's immortal soul be that the best answer they can come up with when a national fucking newspaper asks them to say something a little bit interesting about themselves is that they sometimes, not often mind, like a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Stupid Flanders.

One person had, predictably, said that their guilty pleasure was McDonalds. OK, so that seems like something normal people could relate to - most people enjoy a McDonalds, that's how come despite their efforts to alienate their customers by adding very bad looking salads to their range they are still a somewhat successful business. It seemed quite right that even someone with the lofty palate of the food writer, to whom things undoubtedly taste a lot better than they do to me with my tastebuds deadened by a decade of delicious Marlboro Lights, might like to have a Big Mac when they're off duty, you know, maybe just on Friday nights or something. No. What it seemed was actually the case, was that this woman had eaten a McDonalds once. One McDonalds. Because her kitchen was being used for a photo shoot the next day and so she didn't want to mess it up, and her kids were hungry. They all had a fucking McDonalds. Christ. I wonder if the kids fully committed to this amazing opportunity to replicate an authentic working class experience by talking like Vicky Pollard, making out they didn't know who their dads were and pretending the maid was mummy's lover. "Tarquin! These goujons are called McNuggets! What fun!"... Bet she didn't even have a Big Mac or a Quarter Pounder. I bet she had that thing with the 100% grilled chicken breast and the foccacia and whatever the hell a "balsamic dressing" is.

So what next, someone's guilty pleasure was watercress, or communion wafers? Nope. Toast. But don't worry, not that infidel white toast with the heathens' own marmalade on it. Toast made from rye bread, with unsalted butter. Lord, if you feel guilty for eating toasted rye bread with unsalted butter what the hell kind of emotion would you experience if you ran over someone's dog? If anything, I feel guilty for the fact that anything other than white bread feels like it's sucking all the moisture out of my body much like the drug in that awful Jackie Chan movie The Tuxedo, and that to me unsalted butter is just like smearing the flavourless flab of a dead obese boring guy on your food, so I will probably die at 38 of something white-bread-and-Olivio related if the fags don't get me first. How pretentious do you need to be that all you will admit you eat in your moments of weakness is the kind of shit most of us would feel quite smug about eating if we were sticking to some kind of heart attack prevention diet?

And this is where we get to the bone marrow guy. This is where the pretension hit a level I just wasn't prepared for. One of them, I am not fucking kidding, and if it wasn't for the fact that it was the pub's paper and I had to leave it there I would tell you his name so that forever, when he Googles himself he will see this amid all the stuff he's supposedly done as a world famous chef-cum-food-writer, said his guilty pleasure was "bone marrow". He didn't specify which animal this bone marrow came from, which made me think maybe it was some proper dark shit he was owning up to here and the animal was "white babies", which really would be a fucking guilty secret. Guilty in a life sentency sort of way. Instead I will assume of course that he means some kind of animal bone marrow, like you get in dog biscuits, the ones called, cleverly, Marrowbone biscuits. The ones we left well the fuck alone that time me and my mate were so stoned with such insatiable munchies that we ate some of the other dog biscuits in her kitchen cupboard. He was on about smearing it on stuff. Steak, toast, Thai prostitutes. He described it as "gloopy". Fucking hell, where would one even buy bone marrow? That just ain't fucking right.

So, my conclusion from analysing the jackasses i spoke to is that food writers are all boring (well, they spend their time thinking and writing about something you have to do so you don't die - you might as well go around reviewing different London underground lines for how good their breathing air is), pretentious, or fucking mad.

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