The Sad Demise of Meat and Two Veg
Has anyone else been watching the Great British Menu on BBC 2 in which some of our best chefs compete for the honour of cooking at a feast attended by Great British Olympic heroes? Now, you would have thought that such an event could be hosted in most people’s’ front room, but, no. Apparently the BBC have managed to rustle up at least one hundred heroes for the event. I assume that the list will include people who played the game well and fairly rather than be just those that stood atop a podium and blubbed when the National Anthem was being spoiled by some foreign orchestra…….
Now, these chefs clearly take the competition seriously. In one of the regional heats, chef Johnnie Mountain stormed out after being given a score of just two out of ten for his fish course. A fish course which contained not fish despite being described as “a recreation of the sea” – perhaps he was making a political/social comment about over-fishing or the reducing fish stocks due to man’s pollution. But, I suspect not. I believe he was simply showing off and trying to be clever with a dish of edible sand and sea jelly…… but, his hissy fit was quite amusing.
Indeed, the whole series has not been without controversy. In defining the “regions” the BBC seems to have shown as much sense of geography as those who decide which countries can contest for the Eurovision Song Contest (last time I looked at a map Israel and Azerbaijan were not in Europe…), stretching the Central region as far as Norfolk. And, there has been much criticism for the lack of female contestants – just one out of the twenty four. So, I wonder who does all of the cleaning up after them? But, I think that most contentious of all was the furore which resulted from the fact that one chef used foie gras as an ingredient. The blogosphere was up in arms. I am not sure whether it was all the foodies complaining about such an ingredient being misused in an ice cream, or, xenophobes upset about the inclusion of a French delicacy in a British Menu, or, the great unwashed banging on about animal cruelty. Go tell the French you lettuce munching hippies!……..
But for me the most worrying thing about the programme is the food. Yes it all looks very pretty, apart from those chefs that have taken the Olympic theme a little two far with their reproductions of the Colosseum (not Greek! not Olympic!) and Olympic torches made out of edible twirl. And, I am sure that it tastes perfectly OK. But, I am not sure that I would pick many of the dishes off a restaurant a la carte…….And, all of the chefs seem to be obsessed with the current fad du jour. Never in the field of culinary conflict have I seen so much beetroot. Now I am partial to a bit of beetroot – roasted in a bit of balsamic or sliced and pickled on a ham sandwich. But, not for every course including desert, jellied, pureed, frothed, tempured, or cooked in a bloody water bath and served on a bed of edible moss, accompanied by a plethora of foraged food and roadkill, and served with dry ice.
The Heston Blumenthal influence on British food has gone too far. The most ridiculous thing I have witnessed during this series of the programme is the ubiquitous employment of a new technique called spherification, which Wikipedia kindly describes as the process of shaping a liquid into spheres which visually and texturally resemble caviar. One chef took this to the extreme when he took peas, liquidised them, and employed the spherification technique to, well, make them look like peas……
Whatever happened to meat and two veg?
- BBC criticised after chefs serve foie gras on The Great British Menu (telegraph.co.uk)