The UK pt I (a-e)
The Good Apples (especially Bramleys)
Don’t be dazzled by the colonies and their flashy fruits – I want nothing to do with their mangoes, pineapples and bananas, for we are fecund with the finest fruits on the planet. The jewel in the UK crown is the magnificent apple. This autumnal reward is a thing of wonder, from storing to eating to cider making, through to cooking – where the undisputed champ is the Bramley. There is nothing like a Bramley. They’re better than anything, anywhere.
The Bad Apricot Jam
I have been prevented from using this space to rally against one of the major supermarket chains by the virtue that no matter how much they annoy me, they are not a food. Rules, eh? So instead I will turn my ire on the most insipid of jam flavours, apricot.
Use my jam tart test to see how you really feel about apricot jam:
Imagine a packet of jam tarts are put in front of you, two red jam (possibly raspberry?), two black jam (hmmmm, blackberry?) and two yellow jam (definitely apricot!). Which do you pick first? And second?
No more questions, Your Honour.
The Good Bovril
One of the biggest food crimes ever committed was the knee-jerk reaction of removing beef from Bovril. In the wake of the BSE crises Unilever declared that it was making Bovril meat free so vegetarians could enjoy it. Which is like selling cars without wheels so that people who like walking can enjoy owning them. Bloody ridiculous. Thankfully somebody saw sense and Bovril is back to bovine in a jar. Nothing beats Bovril and dripping on Aga toast with a glass of cold milk.
The Bad Plastic bread
Bread is the stuff of life. A miracle of nature and mans’ ingenuity – the simple combination of flour, water, salt and natural spores can produce something so sublime that men devote their lives to perfecting it. Sadly nearly all British people buy their bread pre-sliced, entombed in plastic and chock full of artificial additives. Your supermarket white-sliced is as close to real bread as the 7.49am train to Euston is to the Orient Express.
The Good Crisps
Potatoes rank fairly low-down in the nutrition stakes and deep-frying them in fat can’t do them any favours health-wise – but crisps are amazing. They are a testament to humans’ ability to crate profit, taste and luxury out of a cheap, bland and very basic food. The UK does crisps as well if not better than anyone on the planet, our £2 billion plus yearly spend testifies to that – so many flavours and snack variants it blocks one’s arteries just thinking about it.
The Bad Cod
I am not a big fan of fish. Sure, I’m partial to a Manx kipper and my cupboards are never without a tin or two of anchovies, but I find it hard to eulogise about most of their piscine counterparts. The most over-rated of all these ocean dwellers is cod – big, bland and bringing very little to the taste table. Even its cousins, haddock and Pollock, have much more about them, which makes cod overfishing even more bewildering.
The Good Dairylea
Cheese is one of nature’s amazing feats. Start with milk, salt and rennet and, depending on conditions and timing, a seemingly limitless amount of varieties can be produced. Not one of those is Dairylea – which is produced, I suspect, in far less ‘natural’ environs! This cloying, sticky yellow cheese-flavoured putty was once a mainstay of UK shopping baskets and although our increasingly middle-class food snobbery would have us consign this to the embarrassment pile, I refuse to kowtow. Some of the best snacks I’ve ever had involved Dairylea triangles and Jacob’s crackers. Dairylea, I got your (cheese-free) back!
The Bad Dandelion and Burdock
Imagine all the flavours in the world that you can enjoy as the basis of a beverage. The fruits, the seeds, the grains – so why choose roots? And roots of weeds at that! I realise history dictated what people ate and drank, and that nothing occurs in a vacuum, but is there any excuse for synthesising the flavour of a weed? Surely technology has better uses, such as making ‘cherryade’ flavour?
Let it die, people – it’s not nice. Like chicory ‘coffee’, it has no place in the modern world.
The Good Egg sandwiches
A good egg sandwich is truly a sublime experience – packets of protein handled correctly to produce a light meal which is both sustaining and filling. I prefer mine with the less bourgeois salad cream and the positively fancy prawn cocktail crisp. Ying and yang, my friend, ying and yang.
The Bad Easy cook rice
There is no excuse for easy cook rice.
Dries out? Use more water.
Goes mushy? Don’t cook it so long.
If billions of people can survive with rice as their principle staple, can you not just learn to cook it properly?