Tag Archives: disappointment

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

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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

LEMON JUICE

lemons

some lemons

My dad tells a story of when him and my mum were both young. (Sometime back in the 18th century. Ho ho.) They didn’t have much money, and my dad had never tried lobster. One balmy summer night they found themselves in a restaurant, and my dad had some spare cashish in this pocket. “Sod it”, he said. “I’ll have the lobster. Garcon! Bring me the lobster!” But he hadn’t understood the French menu, and what he’d ordered wasn’t in fact lobster but some kind of vaguely seafood-infused soup. My dad was still a lobster virgin, and his funds were such that he was likely to remain one for the foreseeable future. As far as I know, he still hasn’t popped his lobster cherry. Poor guy.

My dad tells this story as a kind of meditation on disappointment, although I’m not quite sure what its moral is. Study hard for your French GCSE? Make do with what you’re given? Don’t eat lobsters? Only eat lobsters? I just don’t know. And I guess it doesn’t really matter; the story has entered the cannon of apocrypha that inhabits the fabric of what it means to be a family. (Suck on that sentence, bitch.) Every Yuletide young relatives come from near and far to sit wide-eyed at his knee and beg, “oh do please tell us the lobster story!”

Now, as Philip Larkin once wrote, “man hands on misery to man”.  So it goes that I have not learned from the sins of my fathers, and have engaged in foodular disappointage arising from my own carelessness. For lo, it came to pass that yesterday I did enter the land of the Whole Foods, and it was overflowingeth with organic milk and ethically-sourced honey. And I saw that it was good. And yea, it came to pass that Joshua, who was begateth of John, who was begateth of David, who was begateth of some yokel in a shtetl somewhere, chanced upon a plastic bottle of freshly squeezed lemonade, and he did think to himself, “cor! That looks good! I wanna get me some of that.” And lo he did buy it.

So I went home, clinked some ice cubes into a tumbler (not a glass, note ye well: a tumbler) and decanted the lemonade in. It was hot (the weather, not the drink) and I was very thirsty. Damn, this was going to be good.

Dear reader: it wasn’t good. For it wasn’t freshly squeezed lemonade at all, but freshly squeezed lemon juice. That’s right, I hadn’t read the label properly. I had repeated the mistake that my dad made all those years ago. I was turning into my father, only without the wife, or kids, or general success in life.

I attemped to drink said beverage, before coming to the conclusion that consuming unadorned lemon juice by the cupfull is an undertaking meant for far better men than me. It was drinkable for a few sips, but it was like imbibing the Platonic Form of Sourness. It made me want to scrunch my face so much that my teeth ended up in my ears. It begs the question: who the fuck buys this stuff? Is it meant to be drunk on its own? As a mixer? Not for the first time in my life I felt adrift on a sea of lemons.

In the end I topped the lemon juice up with with ginger ale, and it was fairly pleasant. But kids: always read the label. You don’t want to end up like me and my dad. I’d say worse things could happen, but really that would be lying – they really, really couldn’t.

LEMON JUICE: 5/10

 

DISAPPOINTING KRISPY KREME DOUGHNUT

don't be fooled

don’t be fooled

Krispy Kreme doughnuts are often lauded as the very apotheosis of commercially-available circular sugary products, and for good reason: they are generally pretty good. At the very least, one might expect a Krispy Kreme doughnut purchased from one of those little cabinets at a motorway service station in a place called Fleet to be the best item purchased during the stopover.

Not so, ladies and gentlemen. Not so. My cold samosa was infinitely better.

It was a decent samosa, I’ll grant that, but this should not detract from the sheer inadequacy of the doughnut. I left it until after the samosa, savouring the anticipation like a child who has been told he can only eat dessert after finishing his vegetables. I expected the doughnut to be worth the wait.

It wasn’t.

The culprit in question was the ‘chocolate fudge’ doughnut. Chocolate fudge should by rights be the heady, luxuriant queen of the doughnut world, but this one was bland, and made of a kind of dense, crumbly cake, instead of the normal doughnut, well, dough. And it wasn’t even particularly good cake. It tasted a bit like that feeble, anaemic stuff you get during Passover, which, believe you me, is very far from a good thing.

I’m not proud of drawing this comparison, but I’m going to do it anyway, because it is 5:20pm on a Sunday afternoon, and it is a free country: eating this doughnut was a bit like having an underpowered, dribbly ejaculation. Which, sat in a car at Fleet service station, I would probably have preferred anyway.

MINCE PIES, INSTALLMENT I

Image

a mince pie, whoring its wares.

The utter lack of editorial cohesion at AFB has previously resulted in Gary and I posting, on a Friday night, dispatches within about ten minutes of each other. I’ve no idea the effect this had upon our readership. Suffice to say that it didn’t trend on Twitter.

And I’m afraid to say that the two head honchos at AFB do not see eye to eye on the subject of the mince pie. Sure, we both agree that to blog about them on Christmas Eve is a shamelessly hackish thing to do, but we disagree as to the stance AFB should take with respect to them: Gary is in favour of them, and I am very, very anti.

They are just crap, aren’t they? They’re like a mouthful of pot pourri (or possibly frankincense. But not myrrh – that would be a simile too far.) And every year, every year, I say to myself “go on, have one, you might like it now, your tastes may have changed”, and they never, ever have. Mince pies are invariably little pastry bundles of abject disappointment.

Gary of course has his right of reply. I anticipate an academic debate the likes of which we haven’t seen since the structuralists and the intentionalists first declared their differences with respect to the origins and machinations of the Third Reich. And let nobody kid themselves: this matter is every bit as serious. Thus, I shall anticipate and deal with a few potential objections.

(1)    “But, Josh, you don’t like raisins. And thus you are of course predisposed not to like mince pies. You are thus not equipped to judge them from a neutral, dispassionate standpoint.”

I reply as follows. Firstly, don’t call me Josh. My name clearly says ‘Joshua’. True, my friends call me Josh, but this is a liberty I do not expect from an imagined, hypothetical interlocutor. Secondly, (1) relies on two assumptions: (a) that the debate about mince pies cannot easily be shifted back a step to tackle raisins, and (b) that my dislike of mince pies is not easily based on factors other than the fact they contain said raisins. I see no good reason to think that (a) is true, although a discussion of raisins lies well outside the scope of a paper such as this; and (b) is false – it’s not just the raisins I don’t like, it’s the dry, shitty pastry, the amorphous gloop in the middle, the fact that they look much better than they taste, and the fact that the vicissitudes of the festive occasion essentially press-gang us into eating them. Thus, it is incumbent upon my interlocutor to deal with each of these points.

(2)    “But, Joshua, you have only ever had crappy mince pies made by people like Tesco and Sainsbury’s. Never hast thou tasted a gourmet, proper mince pie.”

I reply as follows. Firstly, Tesco and Sainsbury’s are not people, they are faceless corporations. Secondly, why have you adopted that stupid cod-archaic manner of speech? I am minded not to even engage with you. Thirdly, this is AVERAGE Food Blog, and thus I am permitted to appraise food in its average guise. A crappy piece of average food is, for the purposes of this journal, a crappy piece of food per se.

(3)    “Joshua. My dear fellow. This is a matter of personal taste, and as such is not susceptible to the kind of ridiculous, overblown and frankly odd pseudo-academic rigour you are bringing to bare upon it.”

I fear that adopting (3) would render the entirety of AFB obsolete, so any attempt to refute my case by using (3) would be self-defeating if undertaken via the medium of AFB. There is of course another solution: Gary, let’s take it outside.

Over to you, boy. 

OVEN PIZZA (WAITROSE)

Oven pizzas. They start off with so much promise but inevitably end up either soggy or burnt. Sometimes even both at the same time. A decent oven pizza is a rare thing, like an Andy Carroll goal.

The oven pizza that I ate last night had so much going for it. It was purchased in Waitrose, no less. It was no plebeian pizza. The young lady at the checkout was most accommodating – she even said ‘good evening’, although she went on to acknowledge with some embarrassment that it was actually only the afternoon. She seemed overly apologetic with regard to this error. With her winning smile, however, she needn’t have been. You wouldn’t get that kind of smile at the likes of Aldi.

Now I’ve heard it said that one can ensure a decent quality of oven pizza by purchasing some kind of circular tray, with all holes at the bottom and stuff. I don’t have one of those. My roasted vegetable pizza was thus a risky choice I’ll admit – the peppers and aubergines adding to those elements of the pizza at risk of sogginess – but even so the final product was startlingly underwhelming. The middle was doughy almost to the point of being a swamp, whilst the edges were burnt to a crisp. It was almost as though some deal of effort was expended by Waitrose in ensuring such a bizarre concomitance of scenarios. If it was indeed the result of such effort then surely some acknowledgement is in order, but even so – it tasted pretty rank.

A dismally below-par gustatory experience.