Heresy

Having read about my love for sausage rolls and the Greggs chain before, Loyal Readers will no doubt be waiting for my comment on the furious public reaction when Greggs recently decided to open a store in Cornwall:

The bakery chain Greggs has sparked fury after it opened its first branch in Cornwall – but it won’t be selling its own version of the famous Cornish pasty.
Workers have said the store feared its crimped on top ‘the Devon way’ pasty would upset locals and wouldn’t be welcome.
Instead the outlet at a service station just off the A38 in Saltash features a range of slices and other baked goods including sausage rolls, sandwiches and cakes.
One outraged local even asked: ‘Why in the name of Satan does our county need a Greggs?’
It is understood that Greggs, which has had several stores in neighbouring Devon for many years, has never sold pasties in the West Country as it did not want to create a pasty war. [it’s pronounced “pass-ti” not “pay-sti” — Kim]

I find myself unmoved by the brouhaha because — and let it be shouted from the rooftops — Cornish pasties are shit.

Here’s why.  The problem with adding vegetables to a meat pie is twofold:  firstly, the carrots, beans and such are generally overcooked, which makes them taste bland and horrible;  and secondly, if I buy a meat pie, I want meat — and for too long, unscrupulous bakers have overloaded pasties with veggies because vegetables are cheaper than meat.  (I’m even a little iffy about steak ‘n potato pies, for the same reason.)

So my proud boast is that I haven’t eaten a Cornish pasty in (probably) thirty-five years, not even when I was in Boscastle last year.

And when (not if) I venture into a Greggs in Cornwall in the future, it’ll be sausage rolls or steak bakes, not that pasty rubbish.

Good Question

A while ago, the Daily Mail raised an interesting point:

How much pain would YOU tolerate for booze?
Heavy drinkers will put up with uncomfortable electric shocks to get their alcohol fix, study finds

Granted, I’m not a “heavy drinker” (I’m fat and I like a drink, but that’s the extent of it), so I’m not really in the target demographic, but it is nevertheless an interesting topic for conjecture.

Let’s change the methodology a tad (ignoring that violent electric shock nonsense), and ask instead:  how much inconvenience and/or discomfort would you put up with in order to get your favorite booze down your throat?

Myself:  quite a bit.  I have been known to walk a considerable distance to get a decent pint of ale into me:  I dimly recall once trudging across The Englishman’s muddy fields in the rain towards The King’s Arms at All Cannings (or maybe I was trudging back — Wadworth’s 6X has a way of affecting the memory), which was both uncomfortable and inconvenient.  Don’t even ask how much I’ve trodden the sidewalks of e.g. Edinburgh, London, Johannesburg, Vienna, Paris etc. just to have some beer, wine, gin or Scotch, as the locale warranted.

And because Plano is lamentably bereft of pubs that serve good British ale, I have to drive nearly to Dallas —  all the way south to Addison’s The Londoner — just for a pint of Fuller’s London Pride:  a fair amount of inconvenience, I think you’ll agree.

But forget pain.  Anyone who’s ever experienced chronic gout — the effects of which are exacerbated by booze — would probably join me in saying “Fuck, no!” if offered a gin while suffering a gout attack.  I suppose that’s what differentiates me from being a heavy drinker to being a simple (and occasional) drunk.

Your thoughts in Comments, as usual…

 

“My Name Is Kim, And I’m An Addict”

I have the world’s greatest sweet tooth.

If there’s no candy in the house, I’ll suck on brown sugar cubes.  I mix peanut butter with golden syrup, I will add sugar to Frosted Flakes (!!!);  and speaking of cereal, the last time I had Honey Smacks in a bowl with milk was during Richard Nixon’s first term, because  I normally eat it out of the box with a glass of milk on the side.  I can’t drink coffee or tea without sugar;  and because I hate the taste of plain water, I add a few drops of lemon juice — which makes it too bitter, so I add (you guessed it) a spoon of brown sugar.

My only concession to health is that I’ve managed to eliminate white sugar from my diet altogether in favor of brown sugar, which tastes better, and I’ve only managed to reduce my total sugar intake by eliminating all sodas unless as occasional mixers in gin, rum etc.  I ration myself in the aforementioned tea and coffee by using only 1 teaspoon of sugar per 4ozs of liquid — ergo in a 12oz cup, I’ll add three spoons of brown sugar, and I never drink any quantity larger than 14ozs of anything.

And then we come to chocolate.

Or rather, let’s not come to chocolate, because in matters chocolate I can be so gluttonous that I can make myself sick just in the thinking of it.  If there’s a giant bar of white chocolate (e.g. Nestlé’s Milky Bar, my greatest weakness) I can eat the whole thing in a single sitting, and Cadbury’s Milk Chocolate and Rowntree’s Aero are almost as deadly.  I loathe Hershey Bar chocolate, by the way, because there’s too much cocoa (cacao?) in the formulation;  but when it comes to milk chocolate of the Cadbury’s ilk, I’m a goner.  You know how a leopard will encounter a flock of sheep, and kill and kill and kill until it’s exhausted, and only then carry off a single sheep to eat?  When it comes to chocolate, I’m the leopard and chocolate is the sheep — only I eat everything I kill.

My gastric band is powerless against chocolate because chocolate turns to liquid in the mouth and goes straight down.  It’s a wonder I don’t weigh 500lbs, and it is a testament to my willpower — which has taken me, oh, about thirty years to build up — that I can limit myself to the occasional (small) chocolate bar a month.

One of the few things which saves me is that I cannot abide certain things added to chocolate.  I speak here of nuts of any kind — which is strange because I quite like certain nuts like peanuts and cashews:  just not in my chocolate.  And because I don’t want to throw up all over my keyboard, we will not talk about coconut.  Other than those things, I don’t mind (okay, I love) soft centers, which is why Daughter (a sadist who makes De Sade look like an amateur) gives me for Christmas each year a box of custom-filled soft centers from See’s Candies.  Once again, it is a testament to my willpower that it can take me as long as three days to finish a box thereof because my natural inclination is to consume the entire contents on Christmas Day.  Before lunchtime.

Because I grew up in a British colony (South Africa), the chocolates we had were British, and this was especially true of the boxed chocolate assortments like Cadbury’s Roses and Mackintosh’s Quality Street.  The only thing that has ever stopped me from eating entire boxes and tins of either brand is that they contain landmines — the aforementioned nuts and coconut IEDs.

       

 

It’s a good thing that I no longer live there, and especially not in Britishland either, because retailer John Lewis has come up with the outstanding (!) idea that customers should be allowed to create their own assortments to fill a tin of Quality Street chocolates.

Quality Street chocolates are synonymous with Christmas but every year, the flavours that no-one likes always get left at the bottom of the tin.
Now John Lewis has found a way to ensure every treat will be eaten as shoppers will be able to create their own bespoke tins at pix and mix stations in selected UK stores from late September until December 23.
Customers will be able to choose only their favourite chocolates to fill up a 1.2kg tin, which means if you want a tub full of The Purple Ones and no Strawberry Delights, you can have it for £12.

That swooshing sound you may be hearing in your ears right now is the sound of me salivating.  OMG the thought of a Quality Street tin full of Strawberry Delight, Fudge, Orange Cream, Caramel Swirls and Milk Choc Blocks is so alluring, I can’t stand it.

Thank goodness this Satanic Selection of Temptation is on the other side of The Pond, and will be of limited duration (pre-Christmas only when, this year, I will not be there).  And before any of my Brit Readers (and you know who you are) start hatching evil plans to send me any, I should point out that chocolate doesn’t travel well, especially through the mail.  Please don’t.  Let me just deal with the lack thereof in as manful a way as I can — i.e., with a few small sobs and lots of sighing — and a feeling of relief that I won’t die of Massive Chocolate Overload.

Not this year, anyway, unless Daughter buys me a large box of See’s.

I am so weak

More Crap

Oh good grief, here we go again:

Saturated fats in yoghurt, cheese and butter do NOT increase the risk of heart disease — and may actually prevent a stroke
Eating full-fat dairy actually reduces the risk of dying from stroke by 42 percent, a study found.
Lead author Dr Marcia Otto, from the University of Texas, Houston, said: ‘Our findings not only support, but also significantly strengthen, the growing body of evidence which suggests that dairy fat, contrary to popular belief, does not increase risk of heart disease or overall mortality in older adults.
‘In addition to not contributing to death, the results suggest that one fatty acid present in dairy may lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, particularly from stroke.’
Dietary guidelines in the US and UK recommend people people opt for low or no-fat dairy, however, the researchers warn such options are often high in sugar, which can drive heart disease.
Milk, yoghurt and cheese contain nutrients such as calcium, which lowers blood pressure, as well as anti-inflammatory fatty acids.

And next week, the same group of researchers will say Oops! that’s not strictly true, and all those tasty foods actually lead to brain cancer and Parkinson’s disease.

The war against saturated fats was total bullshit from the start, was based on distorted and in many cases untrue data, and the whole “no-fat / low-fat” campaign was akin to heeding the advice of a guy wearing a wizard’s hat.

A pox on all of them.  Eat what you want, in moderation.  It’s gluttony that kills — hell, drinking too much water is deadly — so go out there and live your life the way you want, not the way some busybody doctors or (even worse) government flunkies want you to.

 

 

Question Answered

I’m going to break with Blog Precedent here [waits for gasps of shock to subside]  and tell a story on the Son & Heir.

After his mother and I were divorced, we shared joint custody  — in a very, very adult arrangement, I should add — with extremely loose and flexible visitation parameters.  (That means that nobody kept score as to how many days the S&H was here or there, etc.)  Anyway, shortly after his 11th (? I think) birthday, he’d spent a lengthy period of his summer vacation with me, which led to a slight contretemps between him and his mother.

You see, she was always on a diet, which meant that in her house there were items such as whole-wheat bread, skim milk, margarine, low-fat this and that, and so on.  Of course, I wasn’t:  white bread, full-cream (Vit D) milk and half-and-half (sometimes mixed) along with double-cream butter, and no regard for the fat content of any food.

So after the summer vacation, the S&H returned home, and when given his usual fare of skim milk in his cereal and margarine on his wheat toast, he promptly rebelled and refused to eat the food his mother had placed before him.

“Why don’t you want to eat your food?” she inquired.
Because it tastes like shit, Ma,” was his somewhat intemperate reply.  (Yes, he had just spent the summer with me.)

I told you all that so I could tell you this.  Apparently, sales of the Big Three local beers have dropped precipitously — the three being Bud Lite, Coors Lite and Budweiser — and if anyone should want to know why this has happened, allow me to point you towards the Son&Heir’s observation above.

To buttress what seems to be a purely subjective take on the issue, allow me to point out to you all that as the Big Three have slipped, craft- and premium beers have increased in sales volume, as have spirits and wines.  So yes, the new generation of drinkers may have taken up (ahem) tastier alcoholic beverages — and more varied ones withal — but this would not have happened had the suffering brands in question had any kind of taste other than slightly bitter carbonated water.

Needless to say, I don’t care as I have never drunk a light (lite? ugh) beer in my life other than to taste it (and spit it out violently, shortly thereafter).  Certainly, I’ve never finished a light beer;  the lightest beer I’ve ever drunk was Amstel (in the proper green bottle, not the watered-down garbage sold in the U.S.).  Hell, I don’t even drink Heineken because it doesn’t have enough body for me.  So the travails of the Budweiser- and Coors brewing companies leave me unmoved.  I’m not suggesting that light beers are a product of Satan’s imagination (okay, maybe I am) but like all products which have been “lightened” to lessen the effects on the waistline, they taste like shit.

Okay, all this talk of beer has made me thirsty and it’s nearly lunch time anyway, so it’s time for a pint or so of my favorite:

Cheers, everyone.


P.S.  I should point out (and this should come as no surprise to anyone) that the grown-up Son&Heir is a devotee of full-bodied craft beers.  In fact, he’s a bit of a pain in the ass about the topic, but then again, he’s just as much a devotee of single malt Scotch (again, no surprise) so I’ll forgive him the beer snobbery.

HERESY!!!

Does anyone see anything strange about this pic?

Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you.  A Japanese whisky just won the “world’s best” award — a Japanese single malt, withal.

Those of you who consider me to be a diehard traditionalist — and there may be a smidgen of evidence here or there to support your judgment — might expect me to start fulminating about such an occurrence, much as the French freaked out about a Californian wine winning best of show (as seen in the outstanding movie Bottle Rocket).

Well, forget that stuff.  Excellence is excellence, and it’s clear (from this account anyway), that the Japanese have worked out how to make fine whisky:

The essential difference between the classic whiskies of Scotland and those of Suntory is the type of barrels used for the ageing process. Single malts from Scotland are aged in a wide array of barrels, mostly made of French or American oak that were previously used to age sherry or Kentucky bourbon. The single malts picked up the residual essence and flavourings from the barrels, which added character to their respective flavour profiles.
The whiskies of Suntory have a distinctively Japanese touch, as only mizunara oak is used to age them and the resulting Japanese whiskies are a harmonious reflection of the place they’re from, with a purity of the sum of the ingredients and the skill of the artisans at Suntory.

The story behind Nikka whisky is equally fascinating (see the link above), and I have to tell y’all, I’m going to sample some as soon as Ye Olde Booze Allowance permits it.  The Nikka Yoichi single runs over $80 / bottle, from what I can see, and the low-end Suntory Hakushu just over $60.  Both seem worth a shot, so to speak.  (The “world’s best” stuff costs about the same as 25-year-old Macallan — i.e. way too spendy, so forget that.)

      

If they taste like drain cleaner, well, at least I tried.  If I like either of them, however, you may want to short the stock of Glenmorangie…

Japanese whisky:  who’d a thunk it?