Now THAT’S A Crisis

OMG — this past hot summer has caused a problem of serious dimensions over in Britishland:

The price of fish and chips is expected to soar this winter – due to a potato shortage that threatens to put some chippies out of business.
The cold snap early in the year followed by a long hot summer has hit potato crops in the UK, and a sack of spuds now costs double what it did last year.
And the situation has been worsened by increases in the price of cod and haddock due to scarcity caused by warmer sea temperatures.
Crops in northern Europe have been affected by similar weather, meaning the situation cannot be solved by imports.

I’m not big on government intervention, as a rule, but if ever there was a time when the BritGov needs to step in with a little relief (e.g. no sales taxes on fish ‘n chips, no import duty on foreign-grown potatoes, or reduced business taxes for chippies?), this would be the time.

Because if I go back Over There later next year and find no chippies in my favorite towns (e.g. Devizes, Wilts), there will be trouble.

We’re talking a national crisis, folks.  The nearest parallel I can think of for us Murkins would be if hamburger meat were to be similarly affected Over Here.

Are there any Idaho potato farmers listening?  I sense an export opportunity.

Little Late

For some reason (inebriation of the editorial committee, no doubt), my copy of Modern Drunkard magazine arrived late this month;  but I think the exhortation is nevertheless quite motivational:

This nonsense of naming days as “Blah Blah Blah Day” is just stupid.  Wait till tomorrow to see exactly how stupid…

Uniquely American?

This article (via Insty) lists the top 5 restaurants that define America, and quite frankly, it made me gloomy. Here’s why.

Two of the restaurant chains (Taco Bell and Domino’s) are basically watered-down bastardizations of another country’s food type.  Taco Bell is barely Mexican, and Domino’s is barely Italian — much as is the case with Spaghetti Warehouse and Olive Garden.  (I do take issue with the author’s lionization of made-in-Italy pizza, by the way.  I think you get better pizza in New Jersey and Chicago than anything made in Rome, for instance.)  That both Domino’s and Taco Bell are so popular — despite their tenuous relationship with their specific ethnic origins — is fine, I guess;  but it does point to the homogenization of the American diet, which is not so good.

Then there’s this about Starbucks:

When Howard Schultz conceptualized Starbucks, he wanted the coffee shop to be a “third place” for people. He knew that most people spent the majority of their time at home and at work. He hoped Starbucks would fill in any gaps that existed and become the place where people went when they were in between home and the office. And he succeeded.

That this defines America is a huge tell — because in almost every other Western country in the world, the “third place” is not a coffee bar but a pub.  That we prefer coffee to alcohol in our “third place” is unsurprising, because we Americans (your Humble Narrator very much excluded) have a peculiar attitude towards booze in that we’re constantly at war with it (e.g. Prohibition) while at the same time we’re in love with it.  Just as unfortunately, Americans prefer to consume booze to get drunk (e.g. shots, chasers and keggers) instead of using booze moderately, as a social lubricant.  Worst of all, American bars have totally fucked things up either by playing loud, horrible music inside as though they’re dance clubs, or else by mounting giant TV screens on the walls to screen sporting contests (likewise played at earsplitting volume, to create the “live” atmosphere).  Being deafened by rap or rock music or having one’s conversation destroyed by screaming sports fans is not supportive of socializing — which, by the way, is one thing that Starbucks did get right, by not succumbing to the bar ethic.  The other thing that Starbucks got right — even though I disagree with it — is that by pricing their product so high, they’ve made coffee equivalent to booze (a Starbucks coffee costs about the same as a beer and is only marginally cheaper than, say, a daiquiri).

As for the other restaurant chains named, I find little to disagree with (except for his dig at Wendy’s).  And thank goodness we have Dunkin’ Donuts, America’s answer to Britain’s Greggs chain.  Maybe there is hope for us after all;  but I still wish we had more of a pub culture Over Here, if for no other reason than to lessen the influence of the dreadful Starbucks.

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.

5 Worst Dietary “Facts”

According to this study*:

  • Lowfat / skim milk is better for you than full-cream milk
  • Saturated fats in your diet will cause heart problems
  • Margarine is better for you than butter or lard
  • Red meat is bad for you
  • The government and health scolds know what the fuck they’re talking about

*Next week, another study will probably come out and disprove this one.  Caveat lector.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to have a breakfast of steak ‘n eggs (fried in butter).  And a full glass of half ‘n half to wash it down.