Sunday, November 26, 2006

An affront to humanity

The stress brought on by kids’ birthday parties is another notch surely worthy of some weekend newspaper article about stress and modern life. A weekend spent gearing up for the event, which was over in under three hours. Two people in dressing gowns trying to cook in the same kitchen with nothing but recipes for disaster. Unable to talk to one another for want of murder. Of course the fucking soup was going to be ready in time to eat soon after everyone arrived; it had practically cooked itself yesterday while nobody was looking.

It was a winner too.

I had marinated the rather bland tasting pigs’ foot flesh in a little olive oil, lots of lemon and some salt. I tossed this into the steaming earthy bath of lentils and split peas, along with a handful of best streaky bacon that had been fried until dark and sticky. Served with a pool of double cream and some flat-leafed parsley, its meaty depths were apparent on people’s faces. Which is about all they were wearing in terms of an expression, as it’s socialy demanding to have conversations with people you don’t know in your own house. I wish they had all just got good and drunk or something.

But, then, I could have been driving back down the M6 in the pissing rain with 14,000 other Smunts, having spent all weekend at this year’s Good Food Show. And what a weekend that would have been. For my £20 entry fee (£18 if I had booked in advance) to the giant NEC I would have had the opportunity to allow over 200 exhibitors from stall upon cocktail-stick-nibble stall try and sell me things, as well as the chance – if I was one of the early birds – to see one of many 15 minute celebrity-chef performance shows – blatantly sponsored by Sainsbury’s and headlined by J.O. himself.

“This is the ultimate shopping experience for those of you who are true food lovers,” churns the foodie marketing machine. “If after a few hours of shopping, you can no longer carry your bags, why not take advantage of our Shop and Drop locations where you can leave all your shopping secure while you are going back for more. You even get a complimentary Mr Kipling mince pie when you return to collect it, and yes he makes ‘exceedingly’ good mince pies as well as cakes!”

How did consumer culture ever come to this? Just think of the amount of cash that’s swimming about up there. £20 per fucking person, handed over in exchange for the being sold things, your every glance while wandering desperately through this culinary circus filled with branded and logo-ed crap endorsed by your heroes, the Celebchefs, teasing you for just long enough to keep you buying the books while you sit there in your mini theatre with 100 other hopefuls cheering every time the leaping head-miked figure in the distance lands upright.

This annual freak show -- and all its provincial fall out such as Aberga-fucking-venny -- epitomises our pitiful
food culture in the UK. And why does it get me so angry? Because it puts the costs of kitchenware and berries up, and ramps the mongoled masses’ dependence on the state. And because I cannot understand someone who does not realise that being charged to be robbed is an affront to humanity.

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