Thursday 4 May 2017

You Are What You Eat 10

Coffee shops, ranked by poshness:

Percy Ingle 
"Oh we've got this little independent place we go to."

Although, oddly, Upwards don't go to independent bakers...

Well, my 8am has been all about kicking a deflated football around a playground & trying to fight off a herring gull from my brioches. (@_katherine_may_ She can even name the species of gull.)
I'm not saying this campsite is middle class but some girls cycled by extolling the virtues of the 'duck vegan wrap' they had for lunch, the man in the next tent has a coffee grinder and one of the children, when asked during the Bushcraft session what food they are allergic to, replied 'Sushi'! (ABS)

The surgeon told me that there were three types of knife/finger accidents: the oyster-opening one, the avocado one, and the separating-two-frozen-burgers one. A paradigm of the British class system perhaps? (Letter to Guardian, April 2017)

Middle-class problems. You are at a friend’s and they grill some halloumi and offer you some. Do you accept politely and spoil your dinner? Are they going to produce more food later? Do they think a few pieces of grilled halloumi is an adequate dinner?

Middle-class problems. A friend invites you round, and says she’ll cook. (This is not “being invited to dinner”.) There are several other people there, and you drink wine and chat for hours, and then she cooks some noodles mixed with ONE cut-up fried courgette for the six of you. You get home at midnight and make cheese on toast.

Middle-class problems. You go to some evening “do”, like a talk or the opening of a picture show. There is wine, and trays of very superior nibbles, tasty but tiny and you only get a handful. Do you suggest to a friend that you go and get a pizza somewhere, or is this supposed to be dinner? If it is, can you grab a whole plate of chicken goujons?

Middle-class problems. The same thing happens at weddings: how do you make an adequate lunch out of tiny sandwiches and mini-quiches? Plus, you lose count of how many you’ve eaten. Is there or isn’t there going to be a sit-down meal at 3pm? On the way home, you eat walnut cake at a garden centre because you are starving.

Middle class problems. You go to a café with a lovely menu full of fashionable food and vegetarian options. But the shredded red cabbage comes in tiny chips, in a ramekin, without dressing, so there is nothing to stick it together. You try to eat it out of the ramekin, but it falls off the fork and you only get a few tiny fragments at a time. Do you tip out the ramekin onto your plate and ask for a spoon, or give up? There is some baby spinach and rocket as well – a few leaves to make the plate look covered, splashed with a very hot mustard dressing that you want to avoid. The pastry on the vegetarian dumplings is so hard you can’t cut it with the very blunt knife provided. It slips and the rocket goes everywhere. You try to eat a rocket leaf but it is too big and sticks out of your mouth, making you look like a manatee browsing on seaweed. You yearn for the days of risotto or chicken supreme, where you got a bowlful of small bits of stuff in mush. You didn’t have to cut anything up, it all stuck together, and every mouthful was the same. And it was pale beige. And FILLING.

Middle class problems. You go out to a posh restaurant where every course is “plated” – a tiny stack of stuff amid smears and blobs of sauce. As soon as you try to eat any of it, it falls apart. It amounts to about three mouthfuls and there’s no way of scooping up any of the sauce. The other diners don’t mind because they eat biscuits and cake all day and are never hungry. Dining at expensive restaurants is just a performance.

When I went to university I was surprised to find that the canteen served “tea”, ie supper, from 5, and shut at 7. I went a few times on my own (I like stodge followed by trifle), but girls didn’t go – it was all groups of boys. When – and what – did the girls eat? We had kitchens, but I never saw anybody cooking in one. I moved in the second term to some converted US airforce barracks and had the communal kitchen to myself. The canteen was working class (though I met friends for lunch there), and there were a couple of middle-class coffee shops – literally on a higher level. I think people sold sandwiches in the student union, and there was a supermarket. And when the very classy Sainsbury Centre opened we Art History students ate lunch there in the lovely restaurant nearly every day. You could get a cheap cheese roll at the Chaplaincy, and there was a burger bar on an even lower level than the canteen. We got a free (fried) breakfast at our converted airfield but again – girls didn’t go, and eventually I got the message. There was a bar at the airfield too, but I never went there either.

From Facebook: Whenever I use the automatic checkout machines and walk away I feel guilty as if I haven't actually paid... (Combines Upward love of needless guilt with Upward obsession about purchasing behaviour. See the Upward who feels guilty saying “Nothing to declare” when he has nothing to declare.)

More here, and links to the rest.

1 comment:

  1. Oh goodness this made me laugh and wince a lot. I love my food, I am flat-out greedy, and I remember memorable meals that were inadequate in quantity much better than I remember good meals, or even just average cooking. Have you read Randall Jarrell's Pictures from an Institution? It is a book I find hysterically funny, but have tried it on others who hated it. Anyway, has a superb dire dinner party in it, and the best scene is the guests all at a late-night hamburger place afterwards saying 'did you see there was a box of chocolates on a shelf in the room? Did you keep looking at it and wondering would we get any?' I remember a dinner where someone made a tiny lasagne for eight of us. She divided it up into six portions, and only realized halfway through serving. So half of us got a small inadequate portion, and the other half got a really tiny half-already-small-portion.