The Noughties: Food

Note: This is by no means a complete list. No pasta. Or cake.

Wagamama’s Chicken Ramen.

The Loch Ness of noodle dishes in that you’re greeted with a giant expanse of murky liquid with vegetation floating in it and every now and then some meat bobs to the surface. This soup comes in a giant salad bowl and is exactly as Johnny 5 from Short Circuit might say, it’s a meal in itself. You have to drink the soup (starter) to get to the chicken and greens (main course). Comes with a giant wooden spoon and is great fun to eat. I always use a fork. Chop sticks are fine, but with food of this magnitude you need a heavy lifting implement to work through it in reasonable time.

Costco’s Aberdeen Angus Sirloin Steak.

I don’t remember when we stopped eating Turkey on Christmas Day but for as long as I remember my Dad’s cooked us a steak. At the turn of the decade we began to buy these from Costco, massive things. They looked like someone had simply chopped the cow into slices sideways and removed the bones. One of my old pen-friends visited in 2000 and her eyes popped out of her head at the size of these pieces of flesh that nearly filled the plate and she stopped contacting me not long after. I’m sure the two aren’t connected but you can never can be too sure. The size has diminished over the years (have to stay awake for Doctor Who) but Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without masticating one of these dripping with horseradish during the Queen’s speech. I suspect all of my vegetarian readers have just unsubscribed on mass in disgust.

Chicago Town’s Edge To Edge Miami Meaty Pizza.

I’ve had a long disastrous history with frozen pizzas. My favourite ever supermarket pizzas were the fresh discs supplied by Morissons during the 1990s, particularly the SupaDupas which came on a whole wheat base and covered in mushrooms. Since then I’ve tried all kinds of varieties but none of them have quite matched this bit of magic which, even if it's straight from the freezer, manages to cook all of the way around and right through evenly. It's moist, it's tasty (if a bit salty) and most importantly it matches the box. It might not have much to do with Italy, or Miami for that matter, but for the price it does the job and does it well.

Pan du Chocolat at the Musee d’Orsay Café.

I’m sitting in the café. On the table before me are an espresso and pain du chocolate, and they are all I can smell. Around me people are talking in a din of different languages. A Japanese girl is placed on the table almost but not quite opposite to me. She has brought an espresso as well. We smile at each other, and we share a few words: ‘You alright’ Yes.’ ‘Japanese?’ ‘English?’ But it’s obvious that is the limit my Japanese and her English so we sit in silence. I'm reading the English version of the guide book; hers is all in Japanese. Different versions of the same book. I put my book down and start to eat the pain. I can tell she is intrigued by it, so I pull off a chunk, making sure there is some chocolate and offer it to her. The girl takes it gladly and smiles giddily after eating. She tries to say thank you but can’t, so I just tell her she’s welcome. When she’s finished that piece I give her some more. We sit in silence just looking at each other, until our coffees are gone. We shake hands and go our own ways.

Necterines, tangerines and related citrus fruit.

Vying for supremacy with apples as my fruit of choice. This decade they joined the list of items which mean that I can’t completely prove within myself the non-existence of something contributing to the natural order of things and stuff. I’d be an agnostic if even agnostics could decide what that means (the wikipedia entry is a mess). It’s both a tasty food and a drink and is held together in a skin which means that it doesn’t leak its sticky liquid all over the place, which is probably how predators view everything below themselves in the food chain, but unlike an elk or zebra, a tangerine isn’t likely to make a futile bid for safety. About the only citrus variety I’ve never quite been able to understand is the bitter taste assault course of the grapefruit. Why do people do that to their mouths in the morning?

Henry Moon’s Game Pie.

My meal time experiences in Stratford-Upon-Avon were variable at best, largely because as well as detox my mind from the internet I decided to try and eat lots of healthy salads. That lasted until the Wednesday night. By Thursday I was desperate for pie and the Phyllius Fogg of the culinary world was on hand with this new taste. An oval dish filled with birds of a flavour I couldn’t identify, gravy and topped with a mountain of mashed potato but unlike similar dishes even when I thought I’d decimated the flesh, another piece appeared from underneath an onion. It tasted familiar and yet not at the same time and I was glad I was only drinking water with it so that my tastebuds could savour the culinary vacation they were experiencing. When asked all I could muster was “Lovely, thanks” which was understating things a little bit. In the donchyouknow parts of the world this is probably average, but for a mouth used to a frozen shepherd’s pie from Asda this was paradise.

Warburtons Seeded Batch Loaf.

A surprisingly disingenuous bread, despite its browness the Warburtons Seeded Batch Loaf contains about forty calories more per slice that their leading blue pack medium sliced white bread. It’s presumably because of all of those seeds which are surprisingly fatty. So although I originally began buying this for health reasons my addiction has stretched beyond that into actually risking my health by eating brown bread. Intensely versatile, it’s like flat toastable museli and there aren’t many toppings it doesn’t enhance. It also has the shelf life of nuclear material, toastable for at least two weeks after purchase. About the only drawback, if you’ll excuse the graphic nature of what I’m about to say, happens at the other end. Sesame seeds and barley do not digest very well at all.

Everyman Bistro’s specials board.

Or anyone’s specials board. The idea of the specials board appeals because of my acute inability to make up my mind about anything. It’s frankly much easier if someone makes it up for me. Just ordering whatever is on the specials board (unless it’s fish related) takes away the arduous j-word through the menu and the mental paralysis which inevitably follows as I simply don’t know if I want it with chicken or beef, what sauce or even if I want mousaka when the lasagne sounds so nice. The game pie listed above was a “special” and look how well that turned out. Soup of the Day is a particular joy because it focuses on a single food stuff and then tells you how it’s going to taste. Some day, someone should experiment with a restaurant were the indecisive patron can simply order “pizza” or “curry” and be happy with what they’re given. Culinary free will is overrated.

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