Author Archives: Joshua Seigal

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

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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

THANKSGIVING SPECIAL: TURKEY

images-1

mmm, cardboard

I love meat. I don’t eat it anymore, because it comes from dead animals, but that is not to say it doesn’t taste nice. It is one of the mournful actualities of human existence that all the most enjoyable things are laden with immorality. Except masturbation. I fail to see how such an act can be considered immoral; it’s not like the baby-juice runs out or anything. And it’s not like, in the normal course of things, anybody is harmed by it. It is the quintessential ‘free lunch’. (Not literally, of course.)

Now, it’s been five years since carcass has passed my lips, with the exception of a much anticipated but ultimately somewhat underwhelming salt beef sandwich ‘cheat’ meal in New York at the tail end of 2015. Nonetheless, my memories are such that I am imbued with a degree of authority regarding what follows. And even if I had no such authority, so what? We live in a post-truth age, capeesh?

The subject of today’s lecture concerns turkey, and we’ll get to it in due course my pretty ones. But first I want to talk about football. Football fans can be a very witty bunch. One of my favourite chants occurs using the schema, “[referring to x] you’re just a shit y”, where x is deemed to be similar to but ultimately less good than y. An example: Carlos Tevez and Diego Maradona are both Argentinian, but the latter was much better than the former, leading fans of whichever team Tevez was playing against to chant “you’re just a shit Maradona.” Oh, the hilarity! My favourite example was when Spurs fans chanted at Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, “you’re just a sh*t Peter Schmeichel’, Peter being Kasper’s dad and a superior goalkeeper.

Back to the turkey, my friends, back to the turkey. (A phrase no immigrant wants to hear. Too far?) Turkey is just sh*t chicken. There, I’ve said it. It tastes like chicken, but is just drier and less tasty. If it wasn’t for its hallowed position at the centre of tradition, no one would ever voluntarily choose it. It requires slathering* in sauce before attaining a palatable level of moisture, and comes with so many trimmings and accoutrements that one is naturally led, with suspicion, to ask: just what is it trying to hide? A complete lack of tastiness, that’s what. It’s like when a munter cakes herself in make-up or swaddles himself in designer clothes.

I think the world would be a happier place if we did away with this turkey bollocks and just ate chicken instead. Good, old-fashioned chicken. Chicken, chicken, chicken. Seriously, man, that’s the answer: chicken. Chick chick chick chickchicken, lay a little egg for me. Think about it: would there still be wars if we ate chicken instead of turkey? Wait! Where are you taking me? Let me go! I’m NAPOLEON goddammit.

Anyway, to sum up this lecture: chicken > turkey.

Sod it all, I’ll have the nut roast.

*one of my favourite words

QUORN ‘CHICKEN’ NUGGETS

quorn

serves 5-6?! Serves 1 more like! (If that 1 is me)

The quest for genuinely meaty meat-substitutes is, you might think, a largely futile endeavour. Quorn steak? About as steak-like as a bathroom sponge. And veggie bacon rashers bare about as much resemblance to the real thing as Tony Blair bares to socialism. (Have I used this simile before? I’m pretty sure I have but I can’t be bothered to look through the hallowed annals of AFB.)

This is a shame as, once liberated from an inevitably unfavourable comparison with their tasty yet immoral cousins, meat-substitutes are often pretty decent on their own terms. How much more tasty, for example, would Linda McCartney sausages be if they were marketed not as sausages (with all the images of unattainably yummy pig eyeballs and anus thus connoted) but simply as, I dunno, ‘mashed vegetable cylinders’ or something. It would lower our culinary expectations, and thus enable us to appreciate the fairly pleasant taste on its own merits.

With this in mind, my expectations upon purchasing a bag of frozen Quorn ‘chicken nuggets’ was reasonably, but not unrealistically, high. I anticipated a perfectly serviceable evening meal, but was very far from expecting McDonald’s-esque levels of gustatory ecstasy. I was ready to give the whole shebang a solid 6, maybe 6.5, out of 10; a 2:1 in Media Studies; a 3-star review from Broadway Baby.

What transpired far exceeded my humble expectations. The nuggets emerged from the oven crisp, oily and golden. Penetration with a fork* revealed said nuggets to be pleasingly crispy, with a coating that slipped off like lingerie on a wedding night. And here is the fulcrum of the whole discussion: the insides were qualitatively indistinguishable from actual chicken. They were positively fowl. So all in all, what I had was basically a plate of delicious, crispy, unctuous chicken nuggets, but without any dead animal offal. Win win.

Granted, the similarity between Quorn ‘chicken’ nuggets and chicken chicken nuggets might have something to do with the fact that actual chicken nuggets themselves taste somewhat indeterminate. But it doesn’t matter; the discovery of a vegetarian item that tastes actually tastes like what it purports to represent is enough to land Quorn chicken nuggets with a 9.5/10. A First from Oxford. The fucking Perrier Award of food. Booooooom!

*sounds like a death metal band. Penetration With a Fork.