Monday, February 16, 2009

Healthy eating

Charlie Brooker gets it dead right.
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.'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.
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.


Anonymous said...

Pub snacks should be salty, Pete. So that you buy more beer. That's why they give salted peanuts away for free. Loss leaders and all that. You love Pork scratchings? You weren't born in Gornall were you? (Or more correctly - were you'm?)

Anonymous said...

Pork scratchings? Food of the gods mate.

Anonymous said...

Food of the strange Gods that rule the Boroughs of Sandwell, Dudley, Walsall and Wolverhampton. Chief among them, if a wall in the Saltwells circa 1987 was correct is the Lord High Jeff Astle.

Anonymous said...

By the way, Pete; "White bread sandwich"? Is that three slices of white bread, with two buttered?

Anonymous said...

A fine post. Made me laugh. Lately, I've had a hankering for spam, cut in cubes and slow-cooked in a thick navy bean soup.

I remember a kid back in elementary school who would, for greater efficiency, I guess, smash his potato chips into fine millings and eat them with a spoon.

The Plump said...

I've had a hankering for spam, cut in cubes and slow-cooked in a thick navy bean soup

Are you sure you're not pregnant John.

And Mike, you've been thinking about that white bread sandwich line for ages, haven't you? Hmmm ...

Anonymous said...

Actually no, Pete. Came to me while I was having my Vegan slice and Stuffing sandwich for lunch. On white bread, of course.

But I do now sort of drift off the way Homer Simpson does, thinking "White bread sandwich , mmmmmmmmmmmm"

Warbies white is one of the things us vegans can go for, so actually the white bread sandwich might be something I should investigate further.

Still can't get over the Ditton Paul Simon thing. I remember them unveiling the plaque at Widnes with a fanfare. Maybe they got Paul Simon over to do the unfurling and he said "Hold on, it wasn't here", and then they hushed it up for a while. Hmm.

John said...

Proper scratchings, mind, with bits of meat still attached and a wiry hair or two sticking out. Not the crappy bags of prawn-cracker rejects they get away with flogging on the Saturday market.

Anonymous said...

And presumably supplied from an industrial estate in Tipton.

Anonymous said...

To get back to the point; Kaffovswinton tells me that the "Fish and Chip" flavour crisps are entirely acceptable for Vegans. Work that one out.