Category Archives: SNACKFOOD

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.

Advertisements

MAXIM PREMIUM ICE CREAM LOLLY – BOROVNICA (BLUEBERRY)

Maxim Premium

As a child, my mum always used to say to me: “Never underestimate Slovenian ice cream lollies.”

I nodded dutifully, while never fully understanding the weight, or indeed point, of her words.

But now the day has come, and I understand clearly. For Slovenia’s very own Maxim Premium blueberry-flavoured ice cream lolly is one of the leaders of its kind.

From the sublime crunch of the white chocolate coating to the subtle nudges of fruit provided by the cold creamy goodness within, this is a once-in-a-generation sweet freezer-originating treat. Inspired. Experimental. Traditional. Confusing, in all the right ways.

I cannot give it a ten out of ten. The Slovenians, as far as I’m aware, are a modest people, and I am very concerned that they would take a full marks as a badge of satire. I am absolutely not here to lampoon. In the realm of European sweetmeats, I have a reputation for taking matters extremely seriously indeed.

Also, if we’re going to get down to the very brass tacks of the matter, this ice cream lolly is too small. You could argue that eating a Maxim Premium is an experience to be treasured regardless of such crass issues as size, but it’s also, crucially, one that calls for elongation. The latter argument is, for me, far more compelling, so gets 0.5 points knocked off.

Another 0.5 reduction is for having a brand name that more evokes a type of scented condom than a delicious cold food experience. 

I can admit it now: for all these years, I have unconsciously been underestimating Slovenian ice cream lollies, flying in the face of my mother’s marvellous advice. Never again. Never. Again.

Oi, Magnum: Ljubljana called. It’s just chuckling on the end of the line. Shall I tell it you’ll call back later?

9/10

SAINSBURY’S ON-THE-GO HONEY AND MUSTARD CHICKEN WRAP

food-to-go-sainsburys-600

By Mansour Chow, jet-setter and coach-getter

On Friday, I took a coach to Bristol with my wife. Before the journey commenced, my wife grabbed some sandwiches from Sainsbury’s from their aptly named ‘On-the-Go’ range.

I suppose the range is aptly named for the circumstances of her purchase, but I can’t speak for all purchases. Then again, in a sense, unless we’re staying perfectly still, aren’t we always on-the-go? And even if we’re staying still, we’re still burning calories, our hearts are still beating, our bodily organs are still functioning, unless we’re dead, of course.

Okay, then, let’s try to come up with some sort of truism to summarise these thoughts. Hmm, how about this: we’re basically all on-the-go unless we’re dead.

But come to think of it, even when we’re dead, we’re kind of on-the-go, in that our flesh and organs are still subject to decomposition. And for up to a few days after our brain and heart have given up on us, our skin cells remain alive. Furthermore, once the brain goes, that part of it that sent a signal to our sphincter to stay closed (until we need it to open at a time of our choosing) disappears, meaning we actually urinate when dead. We can also fart and shit, and some people (your mum, for example) even ejaculate.

But for the sake of a pretty non-existent argument (until I raised it), let’s just say that we’re not on-the-go when we’re dead. Let’s also say that some idiots create a range of sandwiches aimed at dead people, and they give that range the name ‘On-the-Go’. Can we all please agree that that would be ridiculous? Firstly, you’d normally have to go to the dead people in order to have any chance of selling the sandwiches. And even then you still wouldn’t be able to sell sandwiches to them, because they’d be dead. Dead people don’t choose to do anything because they’re no longer capable of making a choice. Only the most ludicrously determinist philosophers would say that there’s little or no difference between a dead person and a living person in terms of choice making capacity.

I’m confident, if you didn’t already agree before, that you’ll now almost certainly agree that a sandwich range aimed at dead people would be a really fruitless venture. Even a fruit range aimed at dead people would be a fruitless venture.

I think we just have to be honest about people who are no longer living. They are no longer masters of their domain, if they ever were. They have no domain. To put it simply, dead people are, well, dead. It’s no good saying that they’re still looking over you, because they’re not. Their eyes no longer send signals to the brain; the brain no longer receives signals from the eyes. And while we’re at it, can we please agree that it’s ridiculous and idiotic to think that there’s an afterlife. I mean, what’s the point in life if there’s an afterlife?

One of the sandwiches my wife purchased from this on-the-go range was a honey and mustard chicken wrap. Once the coach had departed and we felt marginally more settled (which was about as settled as we were ever going to be), we opened that sandwich, having ourselves half a wrap each (there are two half-wraps in a pack).

SainChickWrap2

Unable to find image of actual product under review. Here’s something vaguely similar.

Midway through eating the wrap, we both stopped for a moment to discuss how utterly disappointing the sandwich was. It was, as I told Sainsbury’s via tweet, “one of the most underwhelming experiences of my life”.

Why, you may ask, did I feel the need to tell Sainsbury’s of my experience eating their sandwich? Mainly because I was a bit bored and it would help to fill the time, but also because that’s what people do these days, isn’t it? They just whine to huge companies who are so worried about their reputation that they usually just hand over money or vouchers to you to try to make you feel better. Complaining to companies via Twitter is now en vogue. I could write an entire essay about this form of societal decay, but now is not the time. However, for a quick comfort break from the heavy intellectual themes of this essay, here are what I consider to be good examples of the sort of complaints via Twitter I am referring to:

tweet simonTweet TusharTweet Mansourtweet Zeus

And we’re back. Where were we? Oh, do keep up! We were at the point where I told you that I had complained via Twitter to Sainsbury’s about their fucking rubbish sandwich.

Steven was the first one to reply. He was “sorry” I didn’t enjoy the wrap or at least that what’s he told me, and he wanted to know more about why I didn’t like it. About a minute before I received Steven’s message, I had actually written a further message to Sainsbury’s, adding the Average Food Blog Twitter handle, saying:

tweet Mansour 2

Somehow though, Steven’s message replenished some added hope in humanity, that someone – even if it was simply because they were being paid to – actually cared enough to ask me more about my abject experience, as if perhaps they might want to do something to cheer me from my folly. Thanks to Steve, I managed to pluck back up enough strength from the depletion that eating that wrap caused me, in order to tell him my thoughts.

Basically, it didn’t taste of anything. It tasted how I imagine most sandwiches would taste if I smoked 100 cigarettes a day for 50 years. I don’t smoke, by the way, only the odd one on a night out – a sort of cheeky cigarette when I’m tipsy or drunk. But I’m not a smoker per se.

There was no detectable mustard taste to it. In fact, there was no detectable taste for any of the ingredients. The chicken just about had the texture of chicken, but none of the flavour. I’m ashamed to say that my wife and I still ate it all which kind of reminds me of the joke in Annie Hall at the start about the two old women eating. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrxlfvI17oY

Technically I wrote all that in a serious of tweets and had missed out the word ‘no’ in one of the tweets (I’ve also tidied it up a bit here and there too), but I’m relatively confident they could read between the lines.

Angie from Sainsbury’s responded three hours later offering me a refund. But I was curious. Had she ever tried the sandwich? Did she agree with me? I wanted to know whether she had tasted this sandwich and, if so, what she thought, so I asked via another tweet.

Ewan responded saying, “I can’t speak for Angie but I personally love it!” And he re-offered me a refund.

Ewan tweet

Well, after Ewan’s response, I needed to know more. How could he love it? There is really nothing to love about it. I mean, I can see how someone might love it. For example, if it became available to them during a famine. But aside from those sorts of exceptional and unrealistic scenarios, I couldn’t get my head around how he could love such a shit sandwich.

The only possible benefit of the existence of this sandwich is that the phrase ‘shit sandwich’ may have been coined as a consequence of eating it. But to love the sandwich, that is whole other thing. What kind of sick and twisted individual would one have to be in order to actually love it? What low expectations would someone have to have to allow them to enjoy eating that sandwich? As I contemplated the latter question, I actually felt a bit sorry for Ewan.

But I still couldn’t let it rest. I needed to know what he liked about it and what score he would give it out of ten. So I asked him. But given that I had originally been asking Angie about her opinion on it, I asked him whether he could ask her too.

Roughly five and a half hours later, Aisha replied to say that her colleagues weren’t in and that she’d never tried the wrap. And she offered another refund. But this had turned into something far more important than the money. I needed to try and get my head around how Ewan could like such an appalling sandwich.

Over nine hours later, I asked Aisha if they were in the office and if she could ask again. And then Ewan replied:

I’ve spoken to Angie and she said she loves the sweetness mixed with the savoury flavour of the mustard. Along with some Kettle Chips and a bottle of Lucozade, it would be a 10/10 meal deal. I personally love mustard with chicken, I think it’s a great combo along with a bottle of Irn Bru and original Pringles, it would be a 8.5/10!”

At first, I was not sure what to make of this reply nor was I sure what to make of Ewan’s professed love of such a terrible sandwich or Angie’s high appreciation for it. But I think I am beginning to come to terms with these matters.

On the one hand, I remain terribly troubled that there are people that exist who enjoy this sandwich. On the other hand, they are the sort of people who, when asked to do something simple like rate a sandwich out of ten, instead rate a meal deal which incorporates the sandwich.

All this, unfortunately, still leaves me and my wife with the dreadful memory of eating such a terribly disappointing sandwich. Yes, we can at least take some solace in the fact that we have much better sandwich taste than Ewan and Angie, and that we will be getting a gift card sent to our home address (presumably for the cost of the sandwich), but I don’t think the wretched experience of eating that sandwich will ever fade from our memories.

To be fair, I feel worse for my wife. Years from now, she will keep seeing people who look familiar to her, perhaps on a bus or on a train. She will wonder why that person seems familiar and how she might know them. And then she will suddenly work it out – that person resembles the one who sold her the On-the-Go Honey and Mustard Chicken Wrap.

In No Longer Human, Osamu Dazai writes:

It was a cold autumn night. I was waiting at a sushi stall back of the Ginza for Tsuneko (that, as I recall, was her name, but the memory is too blurred for me to be sure: I am the sort of person who can forget even the name of the woman with whom he attempted suicide) to get off from work.

The sushi I was eating had nothing to recommend it. Why, when I have forgotten her name, should I be able to remember so clearly how bad the sushi tasted? And I can recall with absolute clarity the close-cropped head of the old man his face was like a snake’s wagging from side-to-side as he made the sushi, trying to create the illusion that he was a real expert.

It has happened to me two or three times since that I have seen on the streetcar what seemed to be a familiar face and wondered who it was, only to realize with a start that the person opposite me looked like the old man from the sushi stall.

Now, when her name and even her face are fading from my memory, for me to be able to remember that old man’s face so accurately I could draw it, is surely a proof of how bad the sushi was and how it chilled and distressed me.”

We will remain chilled and distressed for evermore.

Sainsbury’s On-the-Go Honey & Mustard Chicken Wrap

0/10

ELITE CRACKERS

Elite crackers

There’s a lot of talk about the elites these days. It’s often pejorative, and mostly comes from either Owen Jones or Nigel Farage.

But Elite crackers, found across the Mediterranean nations, are the kind of elite even they might publicly get behind, perhaps even without an appearance fee.

These are modestly-priced cracker for the 99%, and considering their limited constituent parts, represent something of a triumph in the ranks of Average Food.

A common criticism levelled at cracker makers is that they lazily, unimaginatively get by on their crack, while ignoring the possibility of a greater range of notable characteristics. This is not the case among the skilled bakers, nay artisans, of the Elite brand. This cracker transcends crack.

There is an entire range of flavours, incorporating semi-natural and entirely-synthesised ingredients heavily focused around herbs, seeds and cheeses, and the sub-types I have sampled have all convinced. They are moreish, one might even be bold enough to postulate.

These snacks arrive in simple packaging, not flaunting themselves in a chauffeur-driven blacked-out Mercedes, but make no mistake, they represent a low-end luxury of sorts.

You can mark me down as a full-blooded supporter of Elite-ism.

9/10

TESCO 7 CHEESE SELECTION PACK

7-cheese

 

Guest blog by Dan Simpson

 

A cheeseboard at Christmas is de rigueur these days, and the supermarkets want to make it easy for you by offering a convenient cheese selection pack. Why spend two minutes choosing your own cheeses from the same shelves for a lovingly custom-made cheeseboard when you can just buy this and be done with it? I’ve eaten three of these atrocities over the holidays, and I’ll tell you why.

I have attempted to write individual reviews of the seven cheeses on offer in this selection: a difficult task, given that were you to spear a bit of any of these cheeses at random, you would not be able to distinguish one from another. The box says to “Remove from refrigerator 1 hour before serving to allow flavours to develop” – though you needn’t bother, since the flavours develop like a poorly-taken low-light night-time photograph: you wonder why you even bothered in the first place.

Brie

Brie is a bad karaoke version of cheese: the coward’s Camembert. And Camembert is itself a spineless cop out in the face of Vacherin. To choose Brie is to say: I don’t know what I’m doing, and I despise taste. But we have not chosen Brie: it has been chosen for us in this box of cheese-approximations. Which is appropriate, given your decision to buy this selection in the first place.

Cheddar

Some will say that cheddar – the most popular and, yes, often blandest of British cheeses – deserves no place on a civilised cheeseboard. Those people are snobs, and wrong: an aged cheddar, full of flavoursome bite and crunchy tyrosine crystals, is a strong part of the line-up, holding its own against the blues and soft Frenches. This cheddar is not that. This is a disgrace: not just to cheddar, but to all cheese.

Red Leicester

Indistinguishable from the cheddar, aside from the highlighter-pen-neon orange.

Edam

When chewing on this theoretically hard cheese, all rubber texture and polybutadiene taste, you may be forgiven for thinking that you forgot to remove the plastic that each of these cheeses comes vacuum-sealed in. Looking down to check and realising that no, this is it, this is the experience of this cheese, it may cross your mind to fish the packaging out of the bin and eat that instead.

Stilton

This is acceptable, in the way that Stilton often is. It tastes like a blue cheese: no more, no less. Your cheese selection is in trouble if this is the best thing on offer.

Austrian smoke flavoured processed cheese

This cheese doesn’t even have a proper name, merely a description of what it is. It’s an obvious joke told by an observational comic – with a bad Austrian accent designed to cover the deficiency of thought behind it. Adding ‘Austrian’ to the name to give it some continental gravitas is a superficial marketing trick no one is fooled by. And, given what Tesco have already done to Edam and Brie here, I can’t blame the EU for wanting nothing more to do with us.

Wensleydale with Cranberries

Grow up and buy some chutneys, and allow people to decide what fruit-flavours they want with their cheese – instead of foisting dried-up bits of cranberries into our mouths, which have the consistency and appeal of dead flies.

Summary

The word ‘selection’ in this product is a lie – it implies that thought and care has gone into the choosing of these cheeses. This is a magnificent smorgasbord of sub-mediocrity, adding up to much less than the sum of their parts. A cheeseboard can be a glorious showstopper: a bountiful overflowing of colours and shapes, textures and taste. Thoughtlessly bunging out this greyed-out selection box wastes that potential, and makes a mockery of indulgence at Christmas. Am I saying that this cheese selection has the power to singlehandedly ruin Christmas? Bitter experience says: yes.

TESCO 7 CHEESE SELECTION PACK: 7/10*

*It’s still cheese, and cheese is always welcome

FERRERO ROCHER

No caption

Reader, I know full well what you want me to write in this blog.

You want me to go straight in on The Ambassador, don’t you.

You want me to put down on this niche blog what you’ve always wanted to express, namely this: fuck you, The Ambassador. Fuck your impeccable taste in mediocre sweetmeats, your mediocre moneyed guests with shit accents and over-enthusiasm for your mediocre sweetmeats.

Fuck everything you stand for, The Ambassador, you utter besuited prick. Fuck the diplomatic codes of politeness, clandestine soft intelligence gathering, sweetmeats arranged like ancient tombs.

But I can’t express any of that with honesty, no matter how much you might want it. Average Food Blog cannot be the crowd-pleaser you so eagerly crave.

Because Ferrero Rocher, if you look beyond all the abject wankery of Ferrero’s marketing department, are pretty decent.

Sure, it’s hardly the world’s best chocolate or premium nuts involved in the mix, but the combination of flavours and textures is somewhat compelling, especially within the context of finding yourself lolling in the sort of advanced state of passivity that only major Christian festivals can bring.

They are not the best of their food genre but nonetheless are indelibly linked to serial eating, much in the same way that Pringles are not a leading crisp but have the same effect.

Of course, there is some possibility that mind-altering chemicals have been injected into each and every bobbly, spherical melting pot of doom to make me feel this way. That ultimately I’m being duped, that the powers that be have got their claws into AFB in a way that strongly suggests the direct or at very least implied involvement of yes, you’ve guessed it, The Ambassador.

OK OK, fuck The Ambassador. You happy now?

Season’s Greetings to all on the internet.

FERRERO ROCHER: 7/10

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