The best foods in the world (pt III)
Salt & pepper squid
Things taste better deep-fried and given the nature of the cephalopod and how it likes to be cooked, deep frying is perfect. Very hot and quick. Toss in a light coating and some seasoning and it works perfectly. If, and when, you find a good vendor, treasure them. In amongst the ghastly, greasy, chewy squid pushers there are diamonds that produce succulent, crispy, spicy, melting mollusc moments.
With a distinctive flavour and meaty texture, I guess you either like mackerel or you don’t? Beautifully coloured and a truly BBQ-able fish, this is the champion workhorse of Britain’s piscifauna.
Egg sandwiches (made with salad cream)
You can keep your fancy mayonnaise. Leave the cress on the windowsill. I’ll have my egg sandwich with the acrid tang that salad cream provides. Offset by the sweetness of two slices of wholemeal and a bag of Walkers Prawn Cocktail crisps.
You may have noticed a thread of ‘meat in bread’ which holds the flimsy pretence of this list together. So on that note, I present the meatball sub. Popularised by submarine sandwich chains such as Subway, Quiznos and Blimpies, they have turned an honest food of simple ingredients into a minefield of salad, pickles, condiments and dressings! It’s just a meatball submarine sandwich – the clue’s in the name, people!
Some things are worth making and some things are worth buying, Branston’s is the latter. Like a magic trick, if you know what goes into it, it just becomes banal and mundane, so accept it for what it is. Otherwise you’ll realise that you’re eating a strange combination of vegetables and that cheese and pickle sandwich just won’t be the same.
The sign of a classic biscuit is when you can buy a budget version and it still cuts the mustard. Try pinching the pennies on a chocolate digestive, or buying bargain Jaffa Cakes and you’ll soon find out what disappointment tastes like. But pick up a packet of custard creams, regardless of price and you can be assured of hours of twisting, scraping and dunking.
A good chocolate brownie is indescribably good. So I won’t even try, but you know what I mean, it’s almost a life-changing experience that will leave you forever chasing that elusive perfect brownie high
Earl Grey tea
This highly aromatic variety of black tea is strangely addictive and despite the abject horror of the tea-e-rati at the very concept of taking it with milk, that’s how I like it. Whilst fighting against the beverage snobs, I have to confess that it tastes so much better out of a pot, rather than brewed in the cup. I willfully use three teabags/teaspoons per pot – even if I only plan to on having the one!
The rule is very simple, tap water at home, fizzy water when you’re out. Start having still water in restaurants and you might as well have stayed at home. And used a plastic cup.
Don’t start getting distracted by all the decorations and the presents, remember the real point of Christmas – eating until you feel sick. Breaking that personal milestone of how much turkey and all the trimmings you can consume is a worthy aim during that most festive of days. It’s what Baby Jesus would have wanted.
Scotch Bonnet chillis
They’re hot, very hot, and whilst grown in exotic climbs they’re now readily available in not so exotic Tesco. With a distinctive flavour lurking under the heat, they are very prevalent in West Indian cuisine and a tricky-to-grow favourite of the ever expanding chilli nerds.
Looking like the apple’s slightly goofy older brother, the pear is an oft mistreated fruit, which, thanks to the unripe picking logistics of supermarkets, means most people’s experience of this green goddess is crunch or fluff. Left to mature on the branch they outshine younger ‘brother’ with ease. Tinned pears should be classified as a completely different beast, sharing very little with their fresh counterparts, that’s not to say they aren’t delicious in their own right.
The base for everything that’s good in the savoury world. I’ve never met an onion I didn’t like.
Relatively new to the British food lexicon, but thanks to the population’s fluency in Italian cuisine, it’s already a familiar staple on dinner party menus everywhere. Ingeniously they float to the top of the pan when ready and have a density that makes you feel like you’ve eaten a small bowl of rocks.
The best thing about jelly is not the comedy wobble, nor the texture, but the glorious sound that first spoonful makes when you take it out the bowl. It’s the sound one could imagine an octopus would make if it were to walk on vinyl flooring.
Pineapple & cheese on sticks
Not everything from your childhood stands up under the scrutiny of an adult perspective, but the combination of tinned pineapple and cheddar cheese eaten off wooden cocktail sticks is still a winner, no matter how grown up I become.
Roast pork belly
Crisp crackling, meltingly soft and beautifully rich meat, this cheap cut of pig makes a mockery of the idea that expensive is a guarantee of quality.
I often wonder, given its simple starting ingredients, how cheese is so amazingly varied and diverse? It’s a true food miracle. Sadly it is because of this length and breadth of variance that means just ‘cheese’ has no place on this list. Given that I enjoy all multitudes of capric dairy products I would be remiss not to have them here to represent the wide world of cheese.
Not goat curry, but curry goat, is a West Indian dish which uses the cheap goat meat, spices and a slow cook to produce a heady meat dish which is meltingly tender. Don’t let the fact that it’s made from goats put you off, try some if you can.
The taste of fresh coriander is so pungently Asian that it can be quite divisive, some call it The Devil’s herb, others bloody love it. To me it’s a welcome addition to any Asian dish.