Sunday, September 20, 2009

Taste in decency

Do you know what gets my goat? Makes me angry? Causes me to vibrate with barely constrained fury like a well-plucked cello string in the note of Grr major?

I'll tell you. Brace yourself because it might also anger up your spleen, like when you come across a particularly awful crime in the tabloids, one where the hacks get all hot and bothered, excitedly using the word "fiend" or "sicko", making you suddenly lose about 40 IQ points just by reading it and having a sudden urge to bring back hanging for particularly heinous crimes. Like immigration.

I hate it when people put my butter in the fridge.

I know, I know, calm down. It's a contentious issue, this, and there are many who are on the side of cold butter, but they are wrong and should be sentenced to ten years hard labour in Siberian dairy mines.

All right, maybe it's not that big a deal. It's a milky-based foodstuff, so refrigerating butter is good for prolonging its usability and preventing it going mouldy. No-one wants to spread milk-flavoured mushrooms on their butties, do they?

But if you're peckish, and the thick sliced Hovis white is looking particularly sumptious, there's nothing, quite literally* nothing in this world more infuriating than trying to spread granite-like butter onto soft, luscious bread. Instead of a creamy smooth layer of salted loveliness on a firm but moist tile of fresh bread, you get a ragged ring of crust, a large hole and some butter pebbles on a plate. Which is wrong.

Therefore it should not, as is the wont of many misguided indiviuals, be kept at four degrees centigrade, but room temperature, and the matter of buttery longevity addressed by eating it quicker.

I'm angry just thinking about it.

Must calm down. Think serene thoughts. I am a smooth stone in the turbulent stream of life. Breathe. Breeeeathe . . .

I started off this post with the aim of examining the topic of taste, and naturally went to the subject of butter as I accidentally used unsalted on some toast yesterday, and you may as well eat plasticine for all the flavour that has.

Taste is a very subjective thing, demonstrated by some people being inexplicably averse to jalapenos and other, sensible, handsome and interesting types thinking they are a tasty savoury ambrosia of piquant loveliness. You can probably guess which way I fall on the jalapeno debate.

When it comes to food, I like most things, so making a list of my favourite foods would be an arduous and pointless task, like writing down reasons to dislike Cristiano Ronaldo. All the obvious ones are there, plus a few personal ones just known to myself.

Far more efficient to mention what I don't like. If that sounds a bit pessimistic, then take heart from the fact that it is a short list. Even if I don't like a certain comestible, I can usually tolerate it, stoic sort that I am. Quiche, for instance, sends my taste buds to sleep but I'll eat it because it's there and someone will have gone to the trouble of making it for me. Spinach makes make me frown, but it's good for me so I'll chow down on it and not kick up a fuss.

There are, however, a few things which I just can't tolerate, and indeed can't even understand why people would like them. I've already mentioned grapefruit as an experience I'm unlikely to repeat in a recent post, and I stand by that. There is also the occasional and criminal practice of putting sultanas in a curry, which is akin to putting geraniums in a trifle. Both are perfectly pleasant separated, but don't belong together in any way.

Another one is ginger.

Oh man, I can't stand ginger. Apart from it looking like something pruned off the top of an unwell giraffe, eating it feels like someone is stabbing me in back of the tongue with a ginger flavoured pointy stick. I would manfully put up with a ginger flavoured biscuit if you offered it to me, but I wouldn't thank you.

This is occasionally a problem because my goodladywife is a very accomplished cook, and tells me that ginger is a useful ingredient in all sorts of tasty dishes. She argues that if I looked through some recipe books, I would probably find some familiar dishes which use ginger as part of their make up, and I would henceforth be more accepting of this hateful tuber.

I said I would, as soon as she explained what a recipe book was.

A recipe book is a collection of chemistry-like concoctions that one can, apparently, put in a bowl, stir a bit, stick in the Very Hot Cupboard in the kitchen, and then eat. It's called cooking, and I recall having tried doing it once. I presume there are also some ethereal, mystical incantations that must be said, because the results of my cookery attempts tend to look like the baddies off of Doctor Who.

Occasionally though, you come across something that you know you won't like, and wouldn't be able to acquire a taste for even if it were deep fried and called a Sparklebun. I came across something like this in a recipe book recently.

Despite my almost clinical inability to cook, even I could recognise a dodgy recipe when I saw it, and that was just from the image of the finished article. I don't know how many of you have tried it, but here it is:

Broccoli cake.

I know.

There are no redeeming features for broccoli cake. Shunned by every decent, right-thinking individual, it exists only in the shadowy half-light of credibility and edibility, trying to be a contender, but being so warped and twisted, so unsavoury and gross, that it finds acceptance only amongst the dreggy, unwashed, ignorant fringes of society. It is the Nick Griffin of the baked world.


Broccoli cake has quite put me off discussing food now. Ruined my appetite I suppose. Well, taste is not just confined to food. It is also about other aspects of life like fashion and performance, aesthetics and humour, entertainment and frolics.

I saw these posters for some local talent in a pub in Chippenham recently, which demonstrate some of the finer choices of talent available to the connoisseur. All tastes are catered for. On one wall, you get a choice of Tom Jones, Fanny Dazzle and Freddie Starr.


It was the middle one, Mr(s) Dazzle that, to me, particularly embodied the spirit of tasteful decor and understated fashion:

Look at that face. If that isn't a fizzog expressing concern at the lack of moral fibre and taste in modern society, I don't know what is.

The show contains adult content, which presumable means a rendition of some difficult contemporary poetry and maybe a discussion as to concepts of economic recovery in these difficult times.

I've got my ticket.

* Quite literally nothing.


  1. I wonder if Fanny Dazzle ever ate broccoli cake? :-) Maybe you should bring her/him some "just in case."

  2. I believe that expression on Ms Dazzle is one of being forced to eat ginger.

  3. Oh my god, you describe my butter experience perfectly. Stupid concretey butter. I just gave up on butter completely, because leaving butter out at room temperature here would just result in an oily pool about 9 months of the year.

    Also, hehe, literally. I know you meant it this time too!

  4. The Jules,

    Like you, I don't appreciate cold butter; particularly on bread. I do find that ginger helps an upset stomach.

    Ms. Dazzle has some rather striking features. You've really put some unwanted images in my mind now: broccoli bread and a cross-dresser.

    I'll pour me some Glen Livet now and think on other things.


  5. So why don't you switch to Flora, which is high in polyunsaturates and and stays soft in the fridge? I suspect Ms Dazzle's first name is a wish rather than a fact.

  6. Mate I love you, want to marry you and have your what I mean to say is I'm so glad you've spoken up (so eloquently) about butter in the fridge.

    I'm an advocate of capital punishment, purely to deal with butter-in-fridgers, gum droppers and instant coffee drinkers.

    What really riles me about cold butter is that I like toast hot, with butter (real and lightly salted) melted in. What I don't like is cold toast because I have spent five minutes raking it apart as I attempt to flatten and spread butter that is so hard it could beat up all the Chavs in Essex.

    Well said my friend.

  7. You had me at sultanas though you nearly lost me again at ginger.

    I want you to go and watch Fanny Dazzle.

    I am unlikely to write two more suggestive sentences than that all week. Congratulations on a truly brilliant post.

  8. Two words to say to you about the butter conundrum - LURPAK SPREADABLE. It's white (like the best continental butter), it's slightly salted and you can spread it straight from the fridge. Just try a small tub - trust me, you won't regret it.

    Also, ginger? There's lots hidden away in curries that you don't even taste...

  9. ..another brilliant and well written post.
    Yeah, I'm the same about butter. You'd think there would be an easier way by now! Maybe you will have to come up with it?

  10. Wow, look at all that buttery solidarity. We could all link metaphorical butter knives and sing from all corners of the world!

    Charlene - I expect (s)he's eats "I Can't Believe It's Not A Nutter" anyway.

    SkylersDad - I do a similar expression, but more frowny.

    Soda and Candy - That's a good point. Although you could pour it on a crumpet I suppose.

    U - The Glen Livet will make those images even more vivid. Enjoy!

    GB - You can get butter that spreads straight from the fridge as well, but I am suspicious of magic.

    Mo - Somebody had to. Up the revolution!

    MLS - Thank you. I'll forgive your gingery trangressions because we all have our foibles.

    Mrs Jones - I do have a back up margarine stash, just in case, but it's not the same.

    Pash - Ta! As I said, there is some ethereally strange butter that's spreadable straight from the fridge, but has no other ingredients which is too strange to be true and must be the work of evil gnomes.

  11. There's really only one solution for your butter dilemma... carve that sucker into a shiv and go after whoever left it in the fridge! They'll be sorry they petrified it.

  12. I'm totally with you on the cold butter issue...

    Andis it just me? Or does that broccoli cake look like it has the 'pi' symbol in it? Not that broccoli cake coukd come anything close to a zen like state. I think it's just wrong. That is taking making youir kids eat greens to whole 'nuther level.

  13. My grandpa used to throw almighty tantrums over this too (this and icecream being too cold. Indeed). His solution was to lash it in the oven for a bit.

    The broccoli cake is possibly the foulest thing Ive ever seen; wondering if it a punishment of some kind?

  14. When you said you hated ginger, I thought you meant red-heads and I was going to be "Yeah! They're freakish and sickly!" but then I realised (spelled YOUR way)that 1)That's not what you meant. 2) I shouldn't say that stuff out loud.

    Oh. Wait.

  15. Broccoli Cake? That is dis-gus-ting! So butter can be left out indefinitely? I did not know that. My world just improved.

    Thanks for the tidbit about the post-mortem-housekeepers!!

  16. Catladylarew - I love the idea of a butter shiv. Then it would melt inside the body and leave no trace of the weapon! Plod would we confounded.

    f8hasit - There is a certain mathematical air to that brocollli cake isn't there? Which is a shame, because I usually like pie.

    Judearoo - I've been know to nuke cold butter in the microwave, but you tend to get a hard shell of butter with a liquid centre. I take it you're not going to make a brocolli cake then?

  17. Kurt - Sorry, missed you in the crossover there.

    Also - Wrong!

  18. Jules - Ooh, sorry, missed you as well. And butter can only be left out indefinitely if you eat it within a few days.

    Which isn't really a problem.

  19. The broccoli cake almost made me puke. You should put a warning sign over before displaying graphic images from a cook-book!

  20. MMMmmm, I think the broccoli cake looks yummy.

    And I have a weird relationship with ginger...I like ginger ale, ginger soy dressing and pickled ginger, BUT! I hate ginger curry, ginger cookies, ginger cake and any ginger based chinese foods.

  21. What??? Ginger girls are aweso... oh, you meant the vegetable kind.

    I will cast my lot with the anti-refrigerated butter cause, although maybe a plug in elecrical heated knife might be an acceptable compromise? I mean, what could go wrong with something sharp *and* electrified?

  22. Sandy - Apologies. I will consider including some black bars across the offensive bits of brocolli.

    Erin - You have ginger inconsitency syndrome, caused by consumption of too much or not enough ginger.

    Eric - Thin end of the wedge that is. It'll be a battery powered butter knife fisrt, and then a mains attached dinner fork, and before you know it you'll be onto diesel powered cleavers.

    Which I now want.

  23. Broccoli cake? Is that one of those trick-your-kids-into-eating-healthy recipes? If so, I'd rename it, maybe something like "Hidden Forest Cake" or "Just eat your fucking vegetables, you spoiled brat! Cake."

    My mom used to hide a giant (giant, like 10 inch long) carrot under our Saturday morning pancakes. The mysterious ridge protruding along the diameter of the stack always gave it away. She thought she was so clever!!

  24. Erm no.

    Incidently Jules, did you actually try the broccoli cake?

    Thought not.

  25. YES! because it's all about real butter, dammit! xoxoxox

    (i don't remember the rest of the post, i'm sorry, sugar!)

  26. Steamy - lol. If it wasn't for that giveaway ridge, you'd never have known, carrots going so well with pancakes and all.

    Judearoo - don't need to. Like I don't need to stab myself in the eye with a compass to know I wouldn't like it!

    Savvy - I'm honoured you remember just a bit it lovey!

  27. You ARE my soulmate. Let's get some buttery goodness on.

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  29. Urbane warrior - As soon as that has bluetooth and a USB port, I'm in!

    Great name btw.

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  31. Well now. Broccoli and cake are two completely different food groups and therefore, should never appear in the same recipe EVER. It's sort of the food equivalent of marrying your sister. It's THAT taboo.

    Ginger, however, is lovely. If you don't like ginger, I'm afraid you might be a latent serial killer.

    Also, I didn't even know people still USED butter. Doesn't everyone use "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" (cunningly retitled "I Can't Believe It's Not BETTER" by my friend Paul) and its ilk, these days? If I do have the chance for real butter I'm sorry, I like it refridgerated and chilled to perfection, even if it means pulling your bread into seventy pieces while trying to spread it. There I said it. :)

    Gosh no wonder everyone hates me.

  32. MLS - 'kay.

    Veg assassin - You like ginger and cold butter? What strange, warped part of the universe are you from? And I prefer the term "potential" serial killer, thank you very much.

  33. When I look into that brocolli cake all I see are the Virgin Mary twins.


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