Monday 7 April 2014

You Are What You Eat V

A thing with a roof is a pie
"Fussy, pretentious, haute cuisine hotel restaurant food." (Angela Carter)

An Aldous Huxley character ticks off his second wife for calling a flan a pie: “Flan, dear – a thing with a roof is a pie.” The distinction has disappeared – a pie can be a flan or a quiche, or even a casserole. Flans have mainly vanished, too.

In a Times piece on what people keep in their fridges, writer Jilly Cooper reveals she has three, stuffed with “Sanglier paté from France, poached salmon, mousses from Waitrose. We also have an animal fridge, purely for the dogs.” (That's wild-boar paté.)

"When will it be socially acceptable for alcohol drinkers not to drink without an excuse? Phil Daoust recommends lying to friends by feigning a headache or hangover. Is it really so inadmissable to abstain? With 1.6m people in England dependent on alcohol, we need a serious change in attitude, starting with our advisers." Elisabeth Johns, Brighton (Guardian June 22 2013)

“Sell-by dates are just a marketing device.” Bill Turnbull, BBC Breakfast 2013-06-09

A “scratch meal” in the 30s-50s was one assembled or cooked in ten minutes, by yourself – ie not one cooked and served by servants.

Shop-bought cakes were considered vulgar.” Mrs Woolf and the Servants, Alison Light
Virginia Woolf didn’t want to return to a middle-class life with “overcooked meat”. Upwards are obsessed with underdone meat. They like bloody steak, as well as beef carpaccio, Parma ham and steak tartare - which are actually raw. (Though all three are unfashionable now.)

Posh people eat a huge dinner late at night, so they are not hungry for breakfast, or lunch, or tea… this makes going on holiday with them really hard. Also they are obeying a secret directive that you don’t waste money (sixpence) on eating out. Also anywhere you’d find to have breakfast, lunch or tea on holiday will be common. Also eating because you are hungry and drinking because you are thirsty is really rather vulgar. Dinner is different – dinner isn’t eating and drinking, it’s “having dinner”, an important social ritual at which you show off your knowledge of correct behaviour, good taste in tableware, and expertise in the latest esoteric food and wine – not to mention the latest health-conscious diet, food-exclusion fad and super-berries.

29% of primary school children think cheese is harvested from plants (and fish fingers are made of chicken etc etc). Could they possibly be teasing the researchers? The middle classes are obsessed with the idea that “kids these days don’t know where food comes from”. You try explaining to a four-year-old where cheese comes from. Or lamb. It links to Upward hatred for instant meals and takeaways. They used to despise tinned food, particularly salmon. It also connects to their insistence that kids should eat adult food with a knife and fork (and lamentations that children are turning up at school not knowing how to hold cutlery). At least in Victorian times when children lived in a nursery and saw their parents for half an hour a day (if you were rich enough) they were allowed to eat nice, bland bread and milk dispensed by nurses who wouldn’t have dreamed of explaining where milk came from.

Middle-class Upwards love to explain that Cadbury’s Dairy Milk is not really chocolate, even though it’s what British people think is chocolate. Then they boast of the high chocolate count in their favourite very exclusive brand that can only be bought somewhere unlikely.

They're always whingeing that you can’t get offal any more, and claiming that ox heart was delicious. (It wasn't, but tongue was.) They're also pious about eating fruit and veg in the right seasons, and obsessed with “encouraging their children to try different foods” – very important because you don’t want them turning down piperade in front of your friends. Of course it’s the commonest kids who live on bread and jam (1900) or chips/fried chicken (now).

The latest hipster trend is to open a café and call it “The Haberdashery”. What are they going to call their haberdashery – The Bakery? Trendy ingredients April 2013: fennel pollen and baobab.

No Upward would have a set of coasters in a matching box. They could never eat anything called a “lunchpot”.

Upwards love anything made by peasants, especially peasants in other countries. A "homemade" cake might be a WI Battenberg made by common Brits, but artisanal bread is crusty bread made by foreign peasants. And they adore foraging. Elderflower champagne, summer pudding. It’s seasonal, it’s natural, and it’s free.

And they’re obsessed by checkout dividers, and the way they’re manipulated by others in the queue. They have "queue rage". Apparently Tesco is now naff.

Yoghourt started life as a punitive superfood which Upwards ate without sugar because it was good for you (and new). You can now get hypersweet toffee yoghourt – hurrah!

Upwards and Stow-Crats eat a “baked potato”. Lower-middle Teales eat “potatoes in their jackets”. They loved smorgasbord when it was fashionable. At the local “greasy spoon” café Samantha Upward struggles to remember it’s a “jacket potato” and the Polish waitress won’t understand “baked”. (It’s “jacket” on the menu she’s memorised.) When eating in public, some Teales will only nibble with their front teeth.

Sometimes posh people take a common food such as crisps and make an upmarket version. It’s still sold in corner shops, but it’s twice the price, so that’s all right. Popcorn in different flavours is the latest (or it was – seems to have gone again). I'm not sure how Heinz is doing with its garlic/pepper/honey tomato ketchup.

Americans sensibly call fusilli “corkscrew noodles”. They also have to go on about how nasty fruit cake is. They're right! But it’s the only kind Upwards are allowed to like. Dark fruit cake was the only cake – apart from seed, sand, madeira, poppy seed, drizzle – but never Victoria sponge, and nothing with cream. Upward cakes have yoghourt based fillings that taste of cheese and contain no sugar at all. Children hate them.

More here, and links to the rest.

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