Monthly Archives: August 2017

The Charcoal Bun

I was in a certain fairly high end supermarket chain yesterday. The type that sells decent (if fuddy duddy) clothing and fresh produce that focuses less on ‘seasonal’ and more on ‘lovely selection of everything you could ever want from around the world’…. (never mind air miles travelled and presumably without exploiting free trade farmers in Ghana or fishermen in Vietnam or conflict zones in Israeli kibbutz.

As usual I gravitated to their little piggy sweets. They do a veggie version and one with pork gelatin in. Personally I believe if you are going to eat something with an oinker of a face, just eat the pig version. I am befuddled by the veggie version. It should be shaped like a happy brussel sprout instead.

Then I got sidetracked by this prawn sandwich with a pipette cockily hanging out of it like a syringe out of a heroin addict’s arm. The main thing that distracted me to it was the bun enclosed around the prawns was pitch black. Black on top, underneath, inside.

It was the most vulgar thing ever. It looked like a volcanic rock had split in two and engulfed a bunch of pink shellfish in the process of trying to escape from a dark and gloomy nightclub who’s walls would also be painted black with splashes of gold and red for good measure.

I was intrigued how someone thought a pitch black bun was possibly appealing. I mean, I am not a particularly fussy eater and prone to some odd choices (the day before I’d been eaten a muffin topped with runny poached eggs, hollandaise sauce, avo, chives, bacon and lobster –  yummy btw) but this thing, although aesthetically interesting, was not something I would ingest.

Not least because I had vague memories of people saying how it wasn’t good to braai every day or to eat burnt toast because these were all possibly carcinogenic. And here this roll was labelled ‘charcoal bun’. Did it actually taste like ash? Would it be like a mouth of burnt toast? Did it actually have charcoal in it? Was it actually stuffed with chaka briquettes or was it just food colouring making it like that?

I googled this bun. Some new train of trendy foodie eating seems to think that charcoal ‘purifies the system’. (You may have seen the charcoal lumps in some of these water bottles) I sort of get if liquids filtered through it maybe it catches impurities. But are you actually supposed to EAT it?

Then again, a few years back they had this thing saying eating clay was healthy and all the celebs were doing it.

And you thought stopping your toddler from sticking all sorts of dirt, sticks, rocks and bugs into it’s mouth was a bad thing.

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And the point is what?

So this woman climbed on the bus the other day with one of those mega prams that appears deceptively small but has 4×4 wheels that run over your feet if you don’t watch out because the wheels are spread like a squatting spider below the seat.

She had child who was getting too big for a pram, a shopping bag and a snack in hand. Curiously I looked at the snack. (I am naturally greedy.) It was a clear box of Quorn veggie cocktail sausages that she was scarfing at speed. Quorn was something I was unfamiliar with before moving countries because South Africans tend to look rather mockingly at people who don’t believe in meat. Quorn being the big brand name for a company that turns soya into a dizzy variety of meat-like products from sausages to mince to breaded chicken cutlets.

Mo Farah endorses it so it must work, even for athletes. And we are not above using a bit of the mince (with its strange squidgy soft tofu texture) to bulk out our normal lean beef mince when in economy mode. But I am not really a Quorn fan.

Looking through the opaque shopping bag I noted it contained a pot of carrot and coriander soup and a pack of ‘Lincolnshire style veggie sausages’ by a supermarket brand.

This to me was even more absurd than Quorn as a brand. This was clearly someone who believed in being a vegetarian for some reason – health/religion/love of fluffy animals – I have no idea. She was probably teaching her kid to be a veggie too. But obviously in denial about the lack of animal in her diet. Why on EARTH would she fill 2/3 of her shopping of imitation meat products? Surely if you are going to be vegetarian, you should embrace the plant. Enthuse on how you can spice and season and appreciate the delectable freshness of vegetables. And what is she teaching her child? Don’t eat meat but let me make your palate accustomed to things vaguely umami meat-ish?

I can fully understand why these products exist on the market but frankly, basing your diet around them is absurd. If you can’t work out how to live on eggs, nuts, cheese, lentils and vegetables maybe you just weren’t cut out to be a herbivore.

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