Every week Frank Leavers our man with the dirty Mac and half empty glass of inexpensive vino is looking at what lies just below the sophisticated gloss of island life. Come on folks; tell our Frank what’s really happening in Majorca.
I think that a time comes in everyones life when you become obsessed with what you’re going to have for dinner later in the day. Indeed, if you add this predisposition to the current coronavirus lockdown and you have an all embracing and rather unhealthy interest in food. It’s true isn’t it? Older people will spend their lives thinking about what they’ll be eating the day after tomorrow lunchtime and like to discuss it in mind numbing detail. Add to this undoubted fact, the arrival of the pandemic and lockdown, then we have an alibi to talk of nothing else other than “what shall we have for breakfast/dinner/tea/supper today then?” I suppose that it is rather inevitable that with nothing much else to do than jigging about in front of a computer screen to tighten your bum muscles between 1am and 12noon that one’s thoughts will drift towards the next scheduled meal, because let’s face it what else is there to think about?
Here in Gloucestershire I am the ‘designated shopper’ for the three of us and I have to say that I take my shopping responsibilities very seriously indeed. A shopping list is forever ‘on the go’ and as I write this, Julie and her mother are in mid debate as to what we might eat later today. This means that at some time this afternoon I will strike out boldly to our local Co-operative store - list and bags in hand, to seek out the items needed to create the dish they had spotted in this mornings Daily Mail. Mostly, their recipes are for ‘fiddly’ food that you see being cooked by rather fey, handsome young men on television breakfast shows - but, I have started to rebel against this sort of food fascism and have begun to buy certain items for myself. Example: last week I brought home a tin (yes a tin!) of Ambrosia Devon Custard and they looked at me as if I were mad. You see, tinned custard is indeed a food of the Gods, last tasted when I was fourteen years of age - but, it seems that it is rather vulgar. Come on, really?
I have to say that their reaction to my tin of custard spurred me onto buying for myself even more proletarian foodstuffs just to annoy them. I haven’t tasted Spam in decades, but it’s lovely in a sliced, doughy white bread sandwich, smothered in - wait for it - salad cream. Yes, salad cream, not that ponsy mayonnaise - and then I even bought a tin of corned beef, with that lovely ratchet key mechanism at the side that might cut the top of your finger off at any moment - Oh and a bottle of picked onions, strong enough to make your eyes water; it was like a culinary experience for ‘retro’ food man. I have now even got myself a separate cupboard where I like to make a ‘stash’ of my unlikely goodies. In my stash, I have every type of Heinz tinned soups and an array of ketchups, Coco Pops, and a couple of tubes of Pringles. This is not proving to be popular with the women of the household - but, funnily enough, I got no such aggravation when I brought home a modest packet of Eccles Cakes….Oh no! Nor when I unveiled the Co-ops own brands of custard creams and shortbread. Why for instance is it “not very nice” to noisily enjoy a large Scotch egg or two when peckish at lunchtime or my local stores ‘special’ cocktail sausages that look rather like a you-know-what in their packaging?
As you can see I have become somewhat single minded in my pursuit of certain foodstuffs. Foodstuffs, that at a guess - some of you will be salivating over at the very thought of them. Alternately, the idea of Spam or tinned Devon Custard in your mouth, will make some of you gag at the very thought of it. But - come on, not really! Mind you, as we make the best we can of this enforced lethargy we perhaps should try anything - apart that is - as Churchill once remarked “incest and country dancing.” Do you know, even as I am writing this for you, I trying to listen into a conversation between the two women of this household. One of them wants to cook something unspeakably middle-eastern for dinner, whilst the other fancies cooking a risotto that when eaten by me in the past has caused me to suffer from severe ‘bloating’ for more than a week. What I would really like however, if ever asked - would be sausages in onion gravy, mashed potato and tinned peas all smothered in English mustard. For pudding/sweet/afters/desert - what about a confit of Co-op apple strudel in delicate sauce of tinned Ambrosia Devon Custard - all washed down with a glass or three of a £5 special-offer Moroccan Merlot? So there you go - what I’ve done today is to obsess about food, just when I said that we shouldn’t. But to be honest, what else would we do with ourselves as we sit out Covid-19?
Next week, I will mostly be writing about the art of shouting at the television and how irony/sarcasm really doesn’t work when housebound for almost a month. I bet you can hardly wait?