Saturday, 31 March 2012

Chilli Con Can't Take It Any More!

Okay, let me just start by saying I really do like chilli.

I like most food.  I should look like a space hopper with other space hoppers for limbs by all accounts and the only food I truly don't like - liver - can honestly be called offensive on all accounts; I just have one message for food manufacturers out there...


I realize of course that you may feel this to be least important topic you've ever seen thought about, meandered upon and written about but trust me; it's quite likely that you have a similar niggle.

It seems to me that this trend of infusing everything with chilli started with more obvious foods such as crisps and peanuts.  Fair enough I thought.  At the time of writing I am only in my thirties but tell someone just few years younger that we used to only have ready salted, cheese and onion and salt and vinegar crisps to choose from and the reaction I tend to get falls somewhere between disbelief and sympathy the like of Ethiopia has yet to experience.

Spicy foods have of course become more prevalent over the years in Britain with some declaring that our national dish is now curry.  No specific curry mind, which strikes me as a bit like saying, 'our country's flag will be...rectangular!'

So to come to the crux of the matter one might think that my openness to almost any form of grub would allow for the introduction anywhere of one of my favourite Mexican staples.

Not so.

Some time ago I wandered into a shop called 'Hotel Chocolat'.  You may have seen one yourself.  I believe they are a chain of sorts.  Within I found lots of over-priced but interesting looking products.  The place was a bit clinical for my liking and dare I say pretentious but hey ho; horses for courses and all that.  It was here that I first saw chocolate bars with chopped chillies set into them.  They just sat there sticking out of the chocolate, unwelcome as a pubic louse and as unabashed as Gary Glitter at the Vietnam border.

Soon after other companies tried the same combo and it was at this point I realized I didn't have to get a mortgage only to remortgage it for the buying of an example of this 'treat' and lazy comedic purposes.

The results were not extreme.  There was no coughing up a rainbow in sheer disgust; nor was I struck with repentant realization that I'd been wrong all the time and chilli/chocolate was surely a sign of celestial existence.  To be honest, it was pretty ho-hum.

The thing is we will often see T.V. chefs or food manufacturers putting odd things together because they think they're being quirky or are challenging us conventional plebs.  The fact is though that most ingredients available to us now have been around in one form or another since before we came down from the trees/got told to bugger off after a bout of misguided apple scrumping depending on your belief system.

Just as certain insects and woodland creatures know not to go for certain berries so too do we know that certain foodstuffs just should not get together.

Sure one person might like some strange new cabbage and synthesized pterodactyl crisps and his friend might rightly chide him for his uncouth habits but this hasn't stopped companies from giving us the likes of Strawberry flavoured potato chips and squid gut iced cream - both absolutely real, one of which I've been unwise enough to try.

To be honest though, I'm all for innovation.  I don't hark fondly back at the days when it was chips with everything and there were only two kinds of peanuts.

It's just that sometimes...just sometimes...I quite like things to taste the way I'd initially expected them to.

Plus the second you say you like one thing, that's all the missus bloody buys in, no matter what the format!

NB: At the time of writing Philadelphia had recently released a cheese and chocolate edition of their spread.  If you happen to come across this and are willing to take the plunge, feel free to report back on the mental state its taste/texture/concept left you in.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Why Don't You?

Do you ever pause before turning on your television/radio/computer or going outside and wonder should I risk it?  Not because of any inherent danger of what might happen to you but rather because of what you might see or hear...

In your own home there is of course a level of control you have over your environment but going outside can begin to seem as idiotic as flinging one’s self bodily into a volcano.  Personally I feel as though I'm starting to put not only my sanity at risk but also that every time I hear yet another banal conversation on the bus I actually start to haemorrhage IQ points.

On this note, when a banal conversation is being held on the phone, why does it become more infuriating?  In theory, half the verbal diarrhoea should equal half the negative effects.

Anyway this brings me to the motivation behind this article.

Rather frivolously, I went on what is fast becoming a mission as tricky and fraught with problems as any space-walk and went to my local shop.  The in-store radio there had been tuned to what I can only presume was considered by the vendors therein would be most pleasing to the unrefined ears of their typical clientele.  i.e.: one of the many local stations pumping out inane 'R&B' (don't get me started on that one) euro-dance claptrap.

During an intermission in the 'music' the presenters picked up on the topic of the day in forced friendly banter, the subject being digital detoxing.  For anyone with actual problems or concerns in their life I'll explain; a digital detox is the latest trend amongst people who have water-cooler moments and think cup-cakes are worthy of prolonged conversation.  It involves going as long as one can using as little in the way of technology - primarily social networking sites - as possible.

It's telling that the word possible was used here because whether it was the presenters of the broadcast or the source from which they were using, someone out there has a very limited understanding of what possible actually entails.

We aren't talking about eating your own head or crashing planets into one another using force of will here.  Digital detoxification is about not going on Twitter for a bit.  Incidentally, I have not and will not go on Twitter or any of this constant update jiggery-pokery.  We live in a society constantly whining about privacy then spend the rest of the day informing the world of our whereabouts and activities; it's national schizophrenia I tells ya!

Besides, I've 'unfriended' more than one Facebook acquiantance for filling up my notifications with 'Just had a bacon butty.  Mmmm.'

If you feel the need to get away from your computer - insert you own gag here - then great!  If you've come to the realization that social networking sites have understandably, skewered your ability to function in social situations, marvellous!  Walk away from the PC, get a phone that utilizes that forgotten MAKES CALLS feature and little else and go and walk just to see where it takes you!

Just don't go giving it an idiotic, media sound bite friendly name.