Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Seconds Anyone?

A few weeks ago I went to Las Vegas with the family. This was the second time we had been to Sin City and the second time we had stayed at Circus Circus which was full of people not so much sinning as eating. Have you seen the size of the buffets in Vegas and the size of some of the people who frequent them? I’ve coined a new term – the “Jumbo People” which if you think about it would make a pretty nifty movie title. “Revenge of the Jumbo People” featuring Nicole Richie getting eaten in one gulp in the first frame while people the size of Mount Kilimanjaro thunder their way up The Strip to get to “The Pharaoh’s Feast” at the Luxor.


It’s obvious that Americans can eat for – well – America. Portion control means not having chocolate sauce with your whipped cream, strawberry puree and syrup on your pancakes. This is after you have piled your plate with bacon, eggs, sausages, roast beef, shrimp, pork chops, lasagna, tacos, potato patties, mashed potatoes, biscuits, gravy and grits [which is evidently left-over wallpaper paste], and washed the lot down with a gallon of Coke. And this is breakfast. The desert table at the buffet is usually so vast that the cinnamon swirls and lemon meringue pies disappear off to infinity in a blue haze in the distance, while the salad bar contains four lettuce leaves, a tomato, and a plate of beans.


When we went to Orlando last year the Jumbo People were there too, wobbling their way towards Space Mountain clutching a whole turkey leg in a greasy paw, creating impact waves in the pond and crushing lesser mortals underfoot. Smaller people, primarily from Asian countries, were flattened like Frisbees and various little children, including a few disgruntled employees uncomfortably dressed as Minnie and Tigger, were side-swiped into the Reflecting Lake at Epcot. And what we thought was Typhoon Lagoon was actually the swimming pool at the Best Western with Jumbo People doing Cannonballs at the shallow end.


On another trip, this time to Nashville, we had dinner one night at Ruby Tuesdays who served us each a plate of food so big that it took two waiters and the cook to carry it across the room to a specially reinforced table with bars underneath to prevent it from collapsing. It was the restaurant’s proud boast that no-one yet had finished off one of their “Mammoth Burgers”; an apt name for a sandwich that consisted of an entire cow between two slices of bread with a pickle.


All this eating is getting out of control. What worries me is not so much that the Jumbo People want to end up dead and buried at a very early age under a mound of dirt the size of Texas but that they might very well be traveling home on the same plane as me. I swear that that last plane I flew on took off sideways into the wind to get more lift and the pilot had to circle Detroit twice while they reinforced the runway for landing.


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Food Fads and the SAS

I hear that members of the SAS will eat anything in order to survive, according to the SAS Handbook and Survival Guide I was thumbing through today. Good thing you’re not a member because if you were you would have to exist for long months in the jungles of Borneo on a diet of dirt, leaves, frog bellies and spiders. That’s if you weren’t chewing the bark off trees and strangling little indigenous [and unsuspecting] animals to eat raw or boiling up a few grubs in a hot spring in the same water you used to wash your feet in this morning.

What accounts for our unique food tastes? I had a cat once that went wild for pickled onions, another [current] cat who just loves Portobello mushrooms, and a dog who likes spicy stuffed olives in hot sauce.


Brits, like me, have long had an affinity for Marmite, which is an evil smelling yeast-based black concoction that you spread on toast and eat with your eyes closed and a peg on your nose. Chip butties are also very tasty [that’s a large handful of fries stuffed inside two hunks of bread with lashings of butter] and so are sarnies [sardine sandwiches]. When I was a kid one of the highlights at Christmas was to lather congealed turkey drippings straight from the roasting pan on to toast – or even, as a really special treat – to lather turkey drippings straight from the roasting pan on to several rounds of fried bread. This is why if you were to conduct a study, you would probably find that there are no Brits left alive over the age of fifty. They all died off from heart disease long ago before Jane Fonda and Twiggy decided that we should all be thin. We Brits just loved our fat. All recipes started off with the words ‘Take one pound of Butter’, even the ones for soup.


When I lived in England it was quite normal to eat about seventeen times a day – breakfast, elevenses, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and supper – with very possibly five pints of lager down at the pub and a take-out curry just before bed. And yet I don’t remember ever seeing overweight Brits. It must be rapid metabolism or very possibly they just shrink in all that rain.


In Japan I believe they like to eat jelly-fish but I don’t know if they go for the tentacles because of the tripping hazard and Japanese restaurants tend to be small – just a few tables and a karaoke box. They also like to eat fish that contains a poison sack that kills you stone dead if you eat it. In order to counter the low attendance of patrons who want to try this there are special chefs who are trained in the art of cooking the fish in such a way as to render the poison innocuous – you hope. They also have people who are solely employed to massage best beer into the rumps of Kobe cattle to make them tender. “And what do you do for a living Mitsubishi san?” “I’m a bum massager you Gaijin”.


Of course we all know of those tribes in Africa who eat locusts. It’s called getting your own back for all those lost crops. Na Na Na Na Na – take that, little flying buzzard thing [I don’t know the word for it in Swahili but it probably has several loud glottal stops]. And in the Middle East people sit around in the desert talking about the weather, “Do you think it’s going to rain this century effendi?”, and popping sheep’s eyeballs like gumballs.


So if you’re going to join the SAS better start now and educate your palate. You never know when you will be dropped into the jungle with nothing but a shoelace and a rusty pen-knife and called upon to whip up a quick batch of ‘worm surprise’ for you and your mates as the sun goes down over the swamp.

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