The standard tuckshop brands of crisps are shameful things, to be eaten in secret on a car journey. Of course, the fey "gourmet" varieties - thicker, hand-cooked "artisan" crisps with flavours such as Aged Stilton and Ambassador's Port - are still considered acceptable by the food Nazis, provided they're served in a bowl at a cocktail party, surrounded by organic vol-au-vents and snobs. That's because our food neurosis is actually snootiness in disguise.We can't just enjoy food, it has to be the food that we are told we have to enjoy because it is 'good' for us. And 'wholesome' food is an indicator of class. Its consumption is an act of worthiness, not of pleasure.
For instance, I hate wholemeal bread with a vengeance. It contains the indigestible, cardboard-tasting bits that millers spent centuries learning how to remove and gives me chronic indigestion. I ate it for years and told myself how nice it was until one liberating moment when I saw a video about teaching methods that showed a charismatic doctor throwing bread rolls around the lecture theatre ranting about how bad bran was for you. I went straight out and bought one of those rare endangered species, a white bread sandwich, and relished it. It has been white for me ever since. Indigestion tablets are now reserved for a surfeit of cheap, rough wine.
The class angle is important though, and not just because of food snobbery. A bad diet and rotten health go with being poor. However, this is not an issue about educating the lower orders about the virtues of the vile, it is about ending poverty. And that means making delicious, fresh food easily available without it carrying covert meanings about the sort of person you are.
A Brooker column wouldn't be the same without some superb invective and I love his descriptions of the new crisp flavours:
It captures the feeling of sitting in a greasy spoon, being dumped via text while your food repeats on you. Depressing.Trouble is, they sound quite appetising to me, especially if eaten with a pint. Pub snacks should be disgusting, that's what's enjoyable about them. And you know what? I love pork scratchings.
...it's like kissing someone who's just eaten a plateful of scampi. Halfway through they belch in your mouth.
They taste precisely like a tiny cat piping hot farts through a pot-pourri pouch into your mouth.