Category Archives: Food

And more time in the queue…

I read a really trashy romance novel once (go figure, my friend thought it would make great holiday reading for me. I don’t know how she can know me so well and yet so badly). I can’t really remember much about the book – obviously the girl got the guy in the end.

What I do remember is the statement that it can only be good if you are in a queue to get in, because New Yorkers love to queue. It’s a stamp of approval on the eatery.

Same thing here too… usually for places that serve meat for some reason. Generally speaking this means I miss the next big thing because I am too lazy to hang around long enough for it to happen. I rely on happy coincidence. I’ve brunched once at a very trendy modern fusion Indian/Iranian spot once. But only because when I walked up to the door they let me be a walk in. Gracefully. Even though I was clearly smelly from the gym and said I would be joined shortly by a girl and a pram. I am happy to extol their virtues to others (the food was also good) but not to queue to get in. And at certain times you do queue.

So my friend suggested we go to a place known for quality but cheap steaks. Guess what? There was a queue. We thought at just before 7pm we weren’t that far behind in it. Turned out it was just the queue to get your name on the list. The wait was estimated to be 80-90 minutes. I wanted to walk right there.

For the sake of friendship I agreed to place us on the list and go somewhere. We went for a drink and I fought to find a signal in the bar we were in so I had to keep popping out to paranoidly check if we had a message.

When we went down an hour later to be informed the kitchen was shut due to some or other electrical problem.

Huh.

They offered if we emailed them on our return they would give us a free drink. Didn’t really help me all that much as they still hold a no reservations policy and for the sake of £5 for a drink, my sanity would still be stretched.

That is part of the reason I never agree to wait in a queue. It’s like getting a dress tailored for you. In theory, great idea. In fact. You just don’t know what you are committing to.

There’s an hour of life I’m not getting back and I am still craving steak as a result.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Food, Uncategorized

Debatable eating

I’m watching this thing on BBC about how a celeb chef is fighting obesity in Britain. He was going on about how the major cereal companies don’t put a traffic light system onto their products like supermarkets here do to warn you if an unhealthy element is in high concentration in the food. Lots of the parents with him said they used the traffic lights. I made pfff pfff sounds in the background. I tried to use it once. I landed up substituting a traffic light that said high in sugars for a ‘healthy eating’ yogurt only to discover it was stuffed full of colourants and that funny taste in my mouth was artificial sweetener. The ‘better’ product was far worse than the original. I switched instead to a low fat natural yogurt and started adding my own fruit into the mix instead.

So I was in Holland and Barratts and looking for a snack or two. This is the ultimate in ‘health food store chain’. It is the perfect one stop for vitamin supplements, wholegrain wheatgerm and manuka honey. It is also the place a sales assistant once chased me down the aisle with the enthusiasm of a true evangelist that I should eat according to my blood group to be healthy. The assistant claimed the store had trained them for this. I’m highly dubious of that. It felt more like a hari krishna had got into a Baptist church and was looking for converts- I do not mean that sacrilegiously but the guy was seriously converted to this blood group thing. Personally I refuse to follow a system that says my blood cells dictate I can’t have steak or peas or something because I’m not an O positive or whatever.

The fact of the matter is I can’t really call H&B a ‘health food’ store either. Who’s kidding who? Raisins, which I believe some Americans call ‘natures goodness in a box’ – who puts them in a box for petes’ sake! – are full of sugar. Bombay snacks are full of salt and fat…

Basically everything in moderation. Unless like me you aren’t too sure where the off switch is.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Fitness, Food, modern living, shopping

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.

3 Comments

Filed under Food, Uncategorized

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Food, modern living

Sterotypes

I had to work late last night and as a rule if you commit past a certain hour the company is obligated to get you food. Issues with the usual delivery company and a credit card followed by a long wait time resulted in a decision to rather do a takeaway from the local Vietnamese restaurant.

One of the guys went off to pay and collect the telephone order – quite a big switch from our usual impersonal internet order with delivery.

Later in the day I made a factitious comment and then apologised that it was bordering on racist assumption.

‘That,’ said my colleague, ‘is nothing. Do not send an oriental guy in a white shirt to pick up an order at a Vietnamese restaurant. I stood for ages at the bar and all the staff just ignored me. But customers kept coming up to me and waving their arms in the air for the bill, like I worked there or something.’

On the upside, the food was good, still warm and the order was correct which is more than I can say for the delivery company.

Oh, and we didn’t have to tip.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under anecdote, Food, social

Healthy Living

So one of my friends pointed out a mutual friend is currently trying to fall pregnant and has been told by a certain hippy character we know that she will come by with some henna to help her dye her hair. Hair dye apparently is not good for embryos or foetuses.

I took a deep breath. ‘Isn’t this’, I asked, ‘The same person you said you had a glass of wine with the other day. Except you felt ill after one glass and told me she was happy to finish the bottle.’

Indeed it was.

I admit to being a terrible hypocrite when it comes to my health. I will surmise regretfully after the fact that pickling my liver may not be a great idea and attempt to run it off the next morning with a mouth full of cottonwool and lungs that feel vacumn packed

I will contemplate and commiserate my love handles as I wedge a doughnut into my mouth.

I will suffer the burdens of a headache loudly and irritably while attempting to refuse pain killers while pouring caffeine into my system in the form of very strong coffee.

I admit to all of this. I know that if I was to be a healthy, well preserved earth child, bountiful and beautiful these choices I make are probably flawed.

I was still vaguely insulted by the logic and lifestyle choices of my former friend even though it really is the pot calling the kettle black.

In this instance I’d probably continue to colour my hair as the lesser of two evils as I’m not actually ingesting colourant directly into my body (well, yes through my scalp into my brain but as I’m not drinking it I feel it’s sort of acceptable). But I certainly wouldn’t be drinking.

Just like I quite like spray deodorants even though they are supposed to be environmentally unfriendly and there are scare stories of aluminium poisoning through your pores. But I’ll probably continue to risk it although I avoid antiperspirants like the plague unless in black tie.

I’ll happily consume fruit/veg/dry goods well beyond the use by date as I’m not good at reading them but go off how wrinkly/mouldy/wilted something looks. But catch me with a bloated can or funny smelling meat. I have been known to throw four chicken breasts (in date) into the bin because they came via an online shop and I had no idea what the driver had done that day but the breasts smelt rank on opening.

Modern living means much of what you do is going to be bad for you. But it’s about which battles you pick to staying healthy.

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Fitness, Food, modern living

Office Lunch

The problem with modern technology is just how cheap appliances have gotten.

In some parts of the world you still have an office tea lady/cleaner. But even if you don’t have her anymore (it is about 70% of the time a ‘her’), you can still invest in a dishwasher and a microwave at very little cost.

So practically every place I have worked at has had some form of kitchen(ette).

In my last office this was taken to ridiculous heights because they were located in this huge old country house. This meant that in addition to two tiny microwave/sink points, they had a full kitchen downstairs.

Some of the guys used to put frozen pizzas into the oven at lunchtime.

This was also partly because the country house was, well, in the country and finding a variety of meals in walking distance was not going to happen.

In my current office we have a number of people with odd dietary requirements.

So called ‘fitness freaks’ on low carb high protein diets exist. They microwave frozen vegetables in their packet to keep up with this diet. When you open them up the entire place smells like old farts and cabbage, broccolli being one of those vegetables that does not steam/boil/microwave well.

Others seem to think microwaving raw fish is a good idea.

Or just buying fish from down the road. Or really strong curry. Or smelly soups.

All of this wouldn’t be so bad if there was a designated seating area you ate this in. A sort of equivalent to those horrible smokers holes where the smoke hovers in the air as they puff frantically away, nicotine sticking to their clothing, the secondary smoke alone bringing about a contact high. The same could be done with a dining area where all smelly foods would hover in the air like a venue where Gordon Ramsey meets a dumpster.

The fact of the matter is a lot of offices do not have allocated seating for eating. So even if you inherit a machine from someone who only ate sandwiches you are likely to discover your keyboard is full of dried crumbs.

But there is the unhygenic-ness of a scattering of old bread and then there is the plain rudeness of foods that noone should eat never mind smell polluting public air.

5 Comments

Filed under Food