Jay Rayner, that son of an agony aunt and corpulent bore, got lucky once: he said something interesting.
During a typical self-congratulatory dirge, he mentioned that he carried a bottle of Tabasco on his person at all times. Just in case.
His words come back to me because I have just returned from a weekend in the West Midlands visiting my aunt and uncle.
On the Friday night, my uncle Julian, a kindly, bearded man for whom the word avuncular was designed, had prepared a curry. Thoughtfully, there was a vegetarian and a meat option. I chose the veggie option, a lentil and coconut curry. (Because I don’t eat meat, alright. It’s not that I object to the cruel slaughter of hundreds of millions of animals every year in terrible conditions that shame humanity; I just don’t like the taste much.)
Now, as with all decent, hardworking average food-lovers, I like a hot curry. A curry that flares the nostrils, waters the eyes and sends your heartbeat up to something similar to Brad Wiggins’ when he races up Mont Ventoux.
This curry was not hot. It was what my mother described as ‘delicate.’ It was like eating ambient music. No bother, I thought, and calmly asked for the Tabasco.
THERE WAS NO TABASCO IN THE HOUSE!!!!!!
Of course I meant Tabasco generally, like when you say ‘a drink’ to describe any alcoholic beverage.
A contribution from Encona, or indeed Walkerswood, would have done just fine.
But Tabasco would have been better. Because in this world of average food in which we so pleasantly reside, Tabasco is the first among equals.
Tired of the carby gloop of Super Noodles? Finding that Chicago Town Deep Dish pizza a touch bland? A dash, or perhaps a splash, of Tabasco and all will be well.
Jay Rayner, flatulent hack and gormless scoffer that he is, carries Tabasco on him. I strongly suspect Mary Poppins does the same. From this day onwards, I shall be joining their ranks.
So, what mark to give Tabasco?
The truth is that I regard Tabasco as a sacred text, in liquid form. I need it each day. I return to it, and find its essential truths comforting.
For that, there can be no petty mark out of 10.
But where would this blog be without petty marks out of 10?
Tabasco Pepper Sauce: 12 out of 10.