Monday, October 25, 2004

Jeff Goldblum-style nacho lasagne


'Forgive us Lord. We were hungry. And weak'
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We're currently rotating the contents of our freezer. It's an interesting time as we're discovering, or shall I shall finally confronting, certain items in the coldest part of our fridge that we've chosen, like one or two uncles, to pretend didn't exist.
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Tonight's repast comprised a Tesco's frozen lasagne and not just any Tesco's frozen lasagne at that. This one had tortilla chips on the top.
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Yes, a combined lasagne / nacho meal for two. Like Jeff Goldblum in The Fly, the mad food scientists at Tesco's placed a plate of nachos and a tray of lasagne in an experimental matter transporter and both came out at the other end with their DNA completely intertwined. In keeping with The Fly motif, the result was scary, really scary. Is food supposed to terrify you? I appreciate that's an admirable quality in a secret police force but a frozen ready-meal?
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What next? Refried pizza? Spaghetti a la guacamole?
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I have been trying to eat properly lately, that's one of the reasons why we're working through the freezer. Aside from the nacho lasagne, my second worst recent food experience was with a Tesco's 'stone baked' frozen pizza earlier on in the week. Out of the oven that thing was sweating enough cheap vegetable oil to grease a small army of women wrestlers, or whatever other Herculean lubrication fantasy task comes to mind.
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It's difficult buying decent food in London these days. Many small, independent shops and markets have been knocked out of business; so you have to deal with the big supermarkets. They charge artificially big bucks for the decent quality food; which means, unless you're planning to take out a second mortgage, people mostly buy from their standard or budget ranges. So there you are wading through fluorescent vegetables, anaemic eggs, fish-tasting chickens and ready meals spurting geysers of vegetable oil wondering what all went wrong.
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The truth is that if there is one thing you can be certain about it's that big business can, and will, always find a way of producing things cheaper and nastier. I picked up a pack of minted peas in a supermarket last week and noticed that the manufacturer had found a way of making minted peas without using mint. Mint clearly is a fabulously expensive commodity that needs replacing with artificial flavourings. Next stop, new improved minted peas without the mint, or the peas.
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Of course, the changes are gradual. It takes years to corrupt a nation's diet. I only really notice after spending a few weeks in somewhere like France or Italy. After a fortnight of actually tasting your food and enjoying pleasurable bowel movements, the return to good old Blighty and its supermarket-peddaled junk hits you in the face like a hammer.
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When I was a kid, London was full of street markets and independent shops. Fresh food was cheap, vegetables so fresh fresh they cowered in fear and meat so organic it came to town on a bicycle. Many of these outlets are long gone; forced out of business by regulation, taxes and parking restrictions. These factors don't seem to inhibit the big supermarkets, which seem to get as much in the way of road alteration and building permission as they require. Presumably their PR people take local councillors to the same hump hump bars that the casino lobbyists take government ministers to.
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The influence of the big supermarkets is all-pervasive. I was watching a documentary about a run down town in the North East of England, Grangetown. It's a derelict dump. Aside from hordes of delinquents tearing apart anything they can, it's a boarded up ghost town. Most locals are trying to kill themselves as quickly as possible with whatever comes to hand; tobacco, alcohol, heroin, paving stones. Cue the councillor responsible for regeneration of the area ...
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'What Grangetown really needs more than anything else is a really modern, large supermarket'
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That's Britain in the 21st Century for you. Mmmmm, how to tackle unemployment, poverty, misery and despair? I know. Build a superstore. That'll help. Yeah, and why not throw up a casino while you're at it.

1 comment:

Miss O'Hara said...

Well, while the nacho lasagna may have been a disaster...at least it was creative, right? I applaud you for thinking outside the box.