I can clearly remember the first time I ever encountered white bread: a momentous event that took place at another child’s birthday party when I was around 6 years old. Everything was rolling along nicely in the way that children’s parties - particularly in the pre-McDonalds era - tend to do: tears, tantrums, red jelly in paper cups and - ta-da! - lots of sandwiches. Except I - reared as I was on wholegrains, hummous and honey - could not identify the stack of thin, pale triangles bound together with putty-coloured paste to save my lentil-scoffing life. So I did what all budding food critics confronted by a challenging dish would have done: crawled under the table, quaking with food fear, until mum came to save me.
Now some people who have heard that story deduce that I must have been a very spoilt brat indeed. Others immediately define me as having enjoyed a ‘posh’ upbringing, and one particularly unbalanced individual even denounced my parents as child abusers from whom the social services should have saved me. All were totally wrong on all counts. But if such judgmental attitudes are rife even amongst apparently forward-thinking folk, then Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall must surely be the devil incarnate and Jamie Oliver his primary cohort; the Observer Food Monthly, meanwhile, must represent a shocking manifesto rather than a symbol of the lifestyle most foodies either subtly or blatantly aspire to. Okay, now I appear to be guilty of being harshly judgmental myself. But I can’t help wondering why, in an era when good food is supposedly a hot topic, the Great British ‘Them and Us’ divide still reigns supreme: at grass roots level, it seems, wholemeal bread is still ‘posh’, and only abusive parents encourage young tastebuds to flourish - that, to my mind, is as sad as a Shippams Paste sarnie (on white bread).