Sunday, September 30, 2012

Hot Dogs, Cupcakes, a 'hidden' microwave and cheap meat

Just to recap: Sunday 16 September
An excerpt from Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries ii is published in the Observer Food Magazine. I am beyond ecstatic (see previous post).

Saturday 22 September
I yearn for a hot dog. Not an English sausage-in-a-bun, nor a bratwurst on a Sheboygan or a chilli/corn dawg the like of which Gordon Ramsay is scraping the barrel to promote as the food of the Gods in his current TV series, but a slippery, salty, pink tube of mechanically recovered meat smothered in burnt onions and slipped between two rectangular pillows of long life, white hot dog bun, the like of which one used to be able to purchase from dodgy guys who used to push mobile braziers around the street (and who never - according to my mother - washed their hands after taking a pee break). Boo and I go to the Moscow State Circus in the park, where I expect my cravings to be satisfied. The ‘Refreshment’ stand is indeed selling hot dogs: the Babushka sausage ‘experience’, no less, for £3 a pop. That wasn’t really what I had in mind and anyway, they stop serving hot food after the interval because the girls behind the counter have to swap their aprons for silver leotards and dangle by their toes from a trapeze for most ot the second half of the show.

The following day, I buy a tin of six Ye Olde Oak American Style Giant Hot Dogs from the Co-op for 99p and an enormous packet of the prerequisite marshmallow buns at a similar price. Boo overcooks three onions to the point where the once sweet-smelling tangle is no longer identifiable as being even closely related to allium cepa and I boil the sausages (and yes, I use the term loosely) in their brine. We eat our hot dogs slavered with ketchup and mustard, and afterwards vow to never, ever give into one of my impromptu cravings again, but we both know that really, it was one of the best meals we’d ever eaten. The only thing that was missing from my original vision was the tang of je ne sais quoi that always came as standard from the mobile brazier version. Boo said that can easily be rectified; next time he makes us hot dogs, he won’t wash his hands after taking a pee.

Tuesday 18 September
In his new book, Nigel Slater claims he doesn’t have a microwave. I spend a whole afternoon making and erecting a stylish, unobtrusive curtain for mine to hide behind (which is what I suspect Nigel has done for his).

Wednesday 19 September
Yet another cupcake company has taken it upon themselves to send me a gratis box of four cupcakes in, I’m guessing, an attempt to bribe me into signing into Twitter immediately and declaring them to be the best cakes I’ve ever eaten in my life. But it ain’t gonna happen: what fashionable foodie in their right mind would be caught dead eating an afternoon tea ‘treat’ that’s so passé? Everybody knows that the macaroon has long since replaced the cupcake on the chic food chart; even Primark has consigned cupcake-emblazoned tea towels to the 50p bin, making way for ‘premium’ home accessories (ie, cake tins for £1) with the must-have macaroon print on the lid on the shelves. But both cupcakes and macaroons are, in actuality, nasty, over-sweet, vile little bullets of negative nutritional value. Cupcakes are fairy cakes badly dressed in the manner of Disney princesses, crooned over by folk who worship style over substance and women who slavishly purchase fake Cath Kidston kitchen accessories (Primark again, from 84p). Cupcakes are the emperor’s old clothes of the food world.

Sunday 30 September
There has been a fashion for “forgotten” cuts of meat of late: former ration book staples such as neck of lamb, beef brisket and offal have been gracing supper tables and dominating TV food shows across the land as the ongoing financial crisis cuts ever-deepening swathes of misery and despair through the household grocery budget. Yesterday I braised two kilos of oxtail in a deep broth of beef stock enriched with tamarind paste and Burgundy for six hours before serving the resulting sinewy gloop with tagliatelle at a supper party. The result was a sweet, sickly, super-fatty, unctuous melange that tasted of exactly what it was: cheap. Some cuts of meat have been forgotten for a very good reason and you really can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear (despite what Fergus Henderson would attempt to have you believe).

To be continued....

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