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Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
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Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Junk food and the Class War

Never "improve" junk food. To do so is to miss the point. Eating junk food is a political gesture; an act of solidarity with those who have no other choice. We sacrifice part of our stomach lining to show that we care. We say, in effect, there are fast days when sole Véronique is off the menu. All perfectly logical provided we obey the rules:

Fish and chips. Vinegar is essential but white wine vinegar, and, especially, balsamic vinegar are cultural digressions. Only Sarson's (industrial strength) will do.

Custard doughnuts. Don't yearn for cream filling. The custard should taste as if it were created in a chemistry lab. Anything else is truckling to the middle classes.

Hard-boiled-egg sandwich without mayo. Forget crusty cottage loaves warm from the oven. The bread should act as an edible table napkin to absorb the excess taste of sulphur. Sliced Mother's Pride pressed flat on the egg is the answer.

Tinned butter beans. VR detests the thick chewy tegument and the bitter "tinny" taste; prefers samphire. As I say, eating is a series of class definitions.

Oxford vs. Robertson's marmalade. You'd never willingly pick up a discarded orange skin and chew it enthusiastically, would you? More class stuff.

Hot dogs. The rubbery skin is part of the appeal, dummy! That moment when the incisor pops through is what you're hoping for. Cumberland sausages? Go to Cumberland.

WIP Hand Signals
(Francine on another surgeon's operating technique) “Her hand was steady, the incision depth sustained.”

“No, no. Your feelings, And I want real honesty.”


Dolland slapped his own knee delightedly. “That’s what I hoped for. At heart good surgeons are selfish. They want to be up there all the time. Diagnostics need practice and you’ll get that. But no one can teach the surgical urge.”


  1. Packets of crisps or those things form Mexico I think called "nachos", doused in salt and monosodium glutimate are bliss with cans of beer while watching footie in the sofa. Apart from reaching tastebuds generally dormant and smothering all others buds they make the consumer thirsty. He or she drinks more lager, and eats more of the sublime junk, becoming thirstier all the time and building a race of mountainous potato-like people, barely capable of speech, living only for more lager and more junk.

  2. Joe: I worried that this post might be a bit too revolutionary - in both senses. But you have unerringly picked up the thread. The quintessence of junk food is insidious corruption - the quick appeal leading to years of regret, of teeth falling out, of dyspepsia evolving into something far worse, of bad breath, of the pathetic pursuit of another country's culture. Food without style. Food eaten standing up, on the pavement in desperate mouthfuls.

    VR deliberately broke the rules two or three days ago with what might have been called chicken wraps. Eaten indoors, tortillas filled with flakes of free-range chicken, our wraps offered almost an austere experience and we emerged uncorrupted. The wraps were not junk food.

    Junk food is a state of mind. The vicious circle you describe - crisps being the ne plus ultra of junk - deserves Dantesque laurels. Soccer crowns the treat.

    Me? I eat junk food on appropriate saint's days.

  3. I know butter beans divide people, but can they honestly be called junk food, even in the terms of your post? They come from a tin, usually, it's true, though not always, I soak and cook them myself when I can't get them otherwise, in this form they are known as 'haricots de Soissons' (though that always reminds me of the council whereat poor Peter Abelard was forced to burn his books), if I can get them in a jar they are 'haricots de Judion', or a tin, where I think they are sometimes calle 'pois de Cap'. All of which confers an exotic and recherché character to them which they lacked as undesirable school dinner fodder. But as with marrowfat peas, I just like those kind of leguminous feculent things. I just looked that up to make sure it was an English word. It is, but means something quite different from and far less wholesome than its French sense. I suppose there may well be a connection. I shall let it stand, just for a larf.

    Oxford marmalade: discarded orange skin dipped in molasses, more like. Love the stuff.

    All vaguely Germanic or Germanesque sausages go pop, don't they? I really like that too.

    Do they still make Mother's Pride?

  4. Lucy: I like butter beans but both VR and Grandson Ian ("Are those the ones with thick skins, all dry inside?") hate them. How far is it from hatred to junk? Those French labels - there's many as would say give a dog a bad name and hang it. Not too sure that's appropriate here but two generations back it passed for wisdom.

    And I'm going to have to look up feculent too, which I should have done when you used it in your recent post about - I can't remember, discursiveness perhaps. Gosh, you're so right! I like to think I can twist any word into a funny thing good enough for my Gran to read; but I might struggle with that particular f-word.

    I also like Oxford marmalade but when I look through the glass and see those undisguised orange worms I wonder how old I was when a careful marketing campaign (Get that scripty-looking typeface on the label) persuaded me to eat something that the vast majority (at least 98%) throw away. The power of advertising.

    Mother's Pride - used generically.