Author Archives: Joshua Seigal

EPIPHANIC BANANA

Image result for banana

some bananas from the internet

Remember Giles Coren? Believe it or not, about ten to fifteen years ago he used to be funny. I used to nab my parents’ copy of the Times on a Saturday, and giggle to myself as I read his restaurant reviews. He would spend the majority of the ‘review’ wanging on about whatever took his fancy, and only get to the food, almost tangentially, in the last paragraph. He would also write droll columns on stuff like, you know, how we should tax fat people extra. I know, I know. Hilarious, right?

Now, I don’t know whether he has changed or I have changed (both, probably), but he is not at all funny anymore. I think the rot started to creep in, as with so many of us, when he got married and had kids. He became incredibly smug, and started going on about how amazing his daughter was. (Well done man, you successfully propagated your genes! Big fucking whoop.) He also became more right wing, bemoaning political correctness and ‘snowflakes’. One of his most moronic moments came when he described football as “just a bunch of grown men chasing a ball around a field.”* This is the kind of thing you hear a lot from football-sceptics, and it is absurd. You may as well describe a car as “just a sort of steerable oblong on wheels” or a restaurant as “just a big room where you go and sit on a chair and put items into your face.” Or a Giles Coren article as “just a glorified piece of toilet paper.” Ho ho ho.

Be this as it may, the apotheosis of Coren’s idiocy surely arrived when he came out with a ridiculous piece of nonsense on the theme of bananas. He said that he loved bananas, “because they taste like cake.”* Bananas taste like cake in the sense that piss smells like bacon – you can kind of discern the similarity, if you squint very hard through your monocle, but all in all the resemblance is extremely tenuous, the main difference being that, in each comparison, one of the ‘comparands’ is delicious, whilst the other one is terrible. You see, I have always hated bananas. They are either sweet but intolerably gooey, like chowing down on a bar of slightly hardened sick, or they are firm but tasteless. The thought of eating a banana is a about as appealing as munching wet polystyrene.

Or so I thought. I eat bananas every now and again, going by the logic that the degree to which I dislike a foodular item is probably positively correlated with the degree to which it is healthy. Early today I had a banana epiphany. On top of my microwave lay an overripe banana, with them brown marks on it. I don’t get paid for this blog, so I was of course hungry. I thought to myself “why not pinch your nose, swallow your pride, and eat that banana?” Ladies and gentlemen: I ate that banana. And it was kind of amazing. Sweet and buttery. Let it be known that this is NOT a review of bananas per se. This is a review of that one specific banana. There is another banana on top of the microwave as we speak; I don’t think I can bring myself to eat it. No future banana experience will ever live up to the one I had this morning. In fact, the only banana experience that will ever come close will be the day Coren gets one up his hairy, sanctimonious fundament.

The banana I ate this morning: 9/10

All other bananas, ever: 1/10

*I’ve just googled the quote and I can’t find it. What’s he gonna do, sue us? What I did find, however, was a whole heap of other nonsense which makes me dislike him even more: women comedians ‘not being funny’; how his ‘biggest fear’ is his four-year-old son being overweight. What an arsecandle.

**again, a perfunctory googling will not yield the quote. But I’m pretty sure he said it. In fact, to borrow the words of the great philosopher Harry Kane, I’d swear on my daughter’s life.

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POPCHIPS (SMOKY BACON; RIDGED)

smoky_b

Ridged. For her pleasure. 

‘Healthy’ versions of well-loved, artery clogging snacks are not usually any good. The case for the prosecution involves such uninspiring witnesses as ‘chocolate’ made out of carob, which is to chocolate as Brad Pitt’s brother Doug is to Brad  – sort of like him, but with all the magic extracted – and low-salt baked beans, which are so insipid they make me want to intravenously inject lard directly into my aorta. By this logic, then, the virtue-signalling Popchips (“popped, not fried”) should be pretty crap. After all, ‘fried’ is normally a synonym for ‘damn tasty’. ‘Popped’ makes it sound like popcorn – the most overrated comestible in the history of snackendom.* At the very best, I imagined something akin to a rice cracker. In other words, I didn’t imagine I would get a taste or texture that was much better than polystyrene.

Reader, none of this came to pass. Popchips are in fact delicious. The variety on which I shall focus in this thesis is the ridged, smoky bacon flavour. Now I know what you’re thinking: ‘Oy! A nice Jewish boy eating bacon!’. But I can assure you that no swine were harmed in the making of said crisps (or if they were, they weren’t then used as ingredients); they are officially ‘suitable for vegetarians’. I couldn’t be bothered to read the back of the packet to ascertain how they get such a robust porcine flavour, but it doesn’t involve anything too sinister because the whole caboodle has only NINETY NINE calories in it. I know this because it is emblazoned in massive letters (or numbers, actually) on the front of the pack. I guess they thought leaving out that extra calorie would make all the difference, in the same way as people charge 99p for stuff instead of a full squid.

Smoky bacon ridged Popchips differ from their non-ridged cousins by dint of being ridged. (A deeply anodyne statement, sure, but you can’t fault its logic. And that’s what we’re all about at AFB: raw, hard, uncircumcised logic.) As such, they pack a deep, heavy crunch worthy of a McCoys. If I have one complaint about the flavour it is that it is a little too salty, but otherwise it is excellent – powerful and muscled, like a heavy metal riff pounding its way across the taste buds. In short, this is a crisp that makes it presence felt, like when Eminem does his rap battle thing in 8 Mile. Yo I’m a ridged mutha ‘ucker gotta love that crunch, gonna munch on me fo ya mutha ‘uckin lunch.

Yes, smoky-bizzle popchizzles are the dizzle.

Although I have been focusing on the ridged variety, much of the aforementioned applies to normal Popchips. They all have decent flavour, and none of them resemble polystyrene. I would happily forego fried crisps for the rest of my life in favour of Popchips. That is a fairly strong statement, and in about two minutes I am probably going to look back at it and wonder what the hell I was thinking, but in the giddy heights of 10:56 on a Wednesday morning in March, fuelled by nothing but lukewarm tea, I am damn well standing by it.

Smoky Bacon Ridged Popchips: 9/10

*a subject for another article. But seriously, fuck popcorn.

WHITE CHOCOLATE FINGERS

fingers

some fingers, yesterday 

Fingers. Sticks. Rigidity. Mouths. I’m not going to make any jokes involving these notions. What do you think this is, a Year 8 playground? I’m trying to run a highly respected gustatorily-based academic journal here. Save the puerile shit for Giles ‘I used to be funny but now I’m a prick’ Coren.

Ok, let’s crack on.

I am a relative newcomer to the Finger scene. They were a ubiquitous presence at birthday parties from between the ages of about 2 and 12, before a whole different sort ‘finger’ became de rigeur (I’m sorry, I’m sorry), but even then I only went to about two or three such parties a year. Never had many friends, you see. (And just LOOK at me now!) It is very rare to encounter chocolate fingers outside of the context of a children’s party. I’ve no idea why this is the case, it just is.

With the aforementioned finger lodged somewhere in the dusty recesses of my anus consciousness, I went shopping recently. I happened upon a box of chocolate fingers, and I thought to myself: “I could bosh a pack of those. Why the hell not?” And why the hell not indeed? Last time I looked, there was no law against it. #MeToo has surely not extended to this type of finger (I’m so, so sorry).

So, dear reader, I bought. I bought, and I boshed. I boshed the entire pack in a single sitting. Beaucoup de boshing ensued.

The fingers were of the white chocolate variety. The lesser spotted albino chocolate finger. And they were delicious. Crunchy yet firm, and fearsomely addictive. Try eating a single white chocolate finger and then not boshing another few; it’s impossible. They make Pringles look like dates. (Seriously, dates are the opposite of addictive: have one date and you won’t want to even look at another date for about a year.)

Another great thing about chocolate fingers is that you can eat them in a variety of ways. Here is my preferred method: (1) snap in half, (3) put half the finger in your mouth, WITHOUT CHEWING, (3) suck the chocolate off until all that remains is some slightly soggy but nonetheless al dente biscuit, (4) chew/crunch the biscuity bit, (5) repeat with the other half of the finger, (6) continue with the rest of the pack. Hours of fun for all the family.

Chocolate fingers, according to a respectable source,* come in a plethora of flavours, including toffee, white chocolate, milk chocolate and dark chocolate. I’ve never had the dark chocolate ones but I can’t imagine they are much good. If I want dark chocolate I probably am not in the mood for a finger, and vice versa. I’m also not quite sure how toffee fingers would work. Surely the elasticity of the toffee would have a deleterious effect on the crunch of the biscuit. I don’t know, I haven’t tried them. And quite frankly, after boshing the white chocolate variety, I’m never trying another finger again.

Once you’ve gone white, you’re all right.

White chocolate fingers: 10/10

(This blog wins the award for the most uses of the verb ‘to bosh’ in a single blog post.)

*Wikipedia

THE GRIFFIN, WHETSTONE

the griffin

I grew up in a place called Whetstone, in north London. There used to be four pubs in Whetstone, and on occasion my friends and I would do the world’s shittest pub crawl. We’d start off at the Black Bull, work our way through to the Bull and Butcher and The Griffin, then round off our drinking at the Three Horseshoes. Sated with pissy lager, we’d end up with a kebab at Khan’s, before going to our respective homes to masturbate.

Oh, how times change. The Black Bull is no more, for one. The landlord was caught on CCTV being entertained by a prostitute (apparently), and now a Halfords stands on its site. The Bull and Butcher is similarly obsolete, having been replaced by some godforsaken club or something that never seems to be open. Khan’s Kebabs has long since become a Costa, leaving precisely ZERO late night food emporia in the whole of Whetstone, and the Three Horseshoes is now a gastropub. (I also masturbate slightly less.)

Which brings us onto The Griffin. Architecturally, The Griffin is lovely. It occupies what looks like a genuine, venerable Tudor building. It has a very large beer garden. It is adjacent to the original ‘whetstone’, where soldiers sharpened their swords before the Battle of Barnet in 1471.

It is also a fucking, FUCKING shit pub.

You see, now that The Griffin is effectively the only pub within a several mile radius, it has cornered the drinking market, meaning it can charge what the hell it likes. So you end up paying central London prices to drink in a Whetstone pub. Which is obviously not a good thing.

The selection of beers is also pretty crap. I’m far from a beer snob, but as far as I’m concerned, if I am stumping up north of a fiver for a pint, I expect at least some decent craft ales to be available. Not at The Griffin. In here, you’re lucky if the Doom Bar is on tap. You’re also lucky if the surly teenage bartender serves you within ten minutes.

There is also no atmosphere, which is odd given the place’s picturesque exterior. The inside of the pub is less atmospheric than a James Blunt concert hosted in a Wetherspoon’s in Darlington, which at least would have cheaper drinks on offer. Middle-aged divorcees come here with their dates. Estate agents come her for a swift one after work. Builders come here to leer at women. Dreams come here to die.

In fairness, The Griffin offers a fairly substantial menu, which I have never tried. For all I know, it could very tasty. I highly doubt it.

Should you ever find yourself alone in Whetstone, with nothing to do, on a random Tuesday night, the original Battle of Barnet ‘Whetstone’ is worth checking out. Then get a bus to fucking Finchley or something. Seriously, don’t bother The Griffin.

The Griffin, Whetstone: 1/10

UNCLE BEN’S GOLDEN VEGETABLE RICE

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avuncular or what?

I have a fair few uncles. My mum has three brothers – Ian, Neil and Richard. And my dad has two sisters, both of whom have husbands*. Which makes five uncles.

Or six, if you count Ben.

Ben looks like a nice, avuncular bloke, albeit with the wrong amount of melanin to conceivably be my uncle in any genetic sense. I guess he could be my uncle by marriage, or adoption. But he isn’t. I’ve never even met him. Hell, I’m not even sure if he exists.

All I know is that Uncle Ben, or some entity purporting to operate on his behalf, makes a decent packet of parboiled, microwaveable rice.

Making rice from scratch, you see, is a bit of a ball ache. Obviously I have never made it from scratch from scratch, in the sense of going to the paddy fields and husking it myself; I mean that actually going to the trouble of boiling rice oneself isn’t much fun. For starters, it takes absolutely ages. And it leaves a vaguely repulsive sticky white scum in the pan. And if you want all peas and sweetcorn and stuff in it, you have to PUT THEM IN YOURSELF! The indignity.

Unless you have Uncy-B to do it all for you, that is.

Now I’m not claiming that Uncle Ben’s Golden Vegetable rice is a great dish. It tastes like what it is – rice with vegetables. It’s not exactly ‘golden’ – more a sort of urinous yellowy colour – and it’s not especially flavoursome. A quick interweb search reveals that the dish actually has only a very modest number of additives, although one of the ingredients is genuinely listed as ‘a bit of UNCLE BEN’S® know-how’ which, on some less-than-charitable interpretations, sounds vaguely ominous and perhaps even euphemistic. It really does seem to be almost as healthy as if you’d knocked the dish up yourself, it’s just that Uncy-B has gone to the trouble of doing it for you.

Uncle Ben’s Golden Vegetable Rice is, in short, comfort in a packet. It’s not going to set the world alight, but frankly, if you are expecting macrocosmic pyrotechnics from a packet of rice, you’d best take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror. It does it’s job. It’s adequate. It’s a 2:1 from a Russell Group university.

Uncle Ben’s Golden Vegetable Rice: 7/10

*or ex-husbands. Let’s not go there.

 

QUICHE

quiche

just say no

Do you want to hear the most depressing joke in the world? Here goes: what do you get if you cross a really shit pie with an undercooked, anaemic cheese omelette?

A quiche, that’s what.

If you are an elderly woman looking for an inexpensive yet vaguely ‘sophisticated’ item of food to take to the vicar’s coffee morning down the village hall, then you just about might have an excuse for indulging in this soggy, tasteless abomination.

Or perhaps you actually enjoy the texture of mashed-up jellied eyeball encased in reconstituted sawdust.

If neither of the above applies to you, then what in God’s name are you doing? Put that bloody thing back on the shelf and get some proper food.

Be on the lookout: as the festive season approaches, it is probable that you will find yourself in a situation where kids are doing quiche. You may think it looks big and clever, but it isn’t. If you want pastry, have a pastry. If you want cheese then have some cheese. If you want some bacon then have some bacon.

Quiche? You’re better than that..

1/10

AFB UP FOR UK BLOG AWARD

I say we’re ‘up for it’; what I really mean is that I sat in my underpants at 4pm on a Sunday and spent about 15 minutes filling in an application form. We are like that kid in school who was delighted to have his crappy poem published in an anthology in which literally every other kid is published too.

Anyway, the long and the short of it is this: please vote for us, using this link: http://www.blogawardsuk.co.uk/ukba2017/entries/average-food-blog It takes about 8 seconds to cast your vote, and would really mean a lot to us here at the AFB offices (i.e. bedrooms). Hell, you can even get your friends to vote too.

If you are broadly supportive of what we do; if you have ever chuckled or smirked in agreement at one of our essays, then as I said – a votey mcvoteface would be hugely appreciated.

Peace and porridge

Josh and Gary