Bonjour mes petites cocottes en terre perdues d'agneau ! Il a été trop long!
We all have vices and habits, they're human nature. They get us through our day and make us happy. Unfortunately now, one too many of my happy habits have been ruined by the ever expanding universe of food marketing which has become flooded with jumped up, opinionated oinks dictating what we should eat. Frankly, I choose to care not whether many processed products will increase my chances of getting some form of Cancer — my smoking, alcohol consumption and stressful working environment will take care of all that in due course.
Our parents and grandparents have been eating stodge and junk for decades, but all of a sudden, almost everything that got them through the Great Depression and a war-torn 20th Century is now bad for us. How unpatriotic. On one side, the 'moderationists'. On the other, the 'live life to the fullest' cowboys. “Never give in to cretins that have never lived on the breadline or tried to feed a family on a pittance!” an old friend advises.
Caught in the middle: chefs like me. After an crazy session at work, we like nothing more than to retire to our front room, get settled and begin a certain evening ritual. All Chefs have one. I collapse on my favourite sofa after a shower, smoking, drinking alcohol and watching television before proceeding to devour some combination of a sweet and sour Pot Noodle, cheese and honey roasted ham sandwich, or my favourite ‘mash up’ of pepperami and cream cheese pasta with a big chunk of Soda Bread smothered in virgin oil and covered in sea salt. What a feast!
Do you find it strange that professional chefs would lower themselves to eat such processed junk food? We break sweat everyday creating some of the finest gastronomically delectable delights available, yet when we retire to our abodes, we eat mass produced, factory manufactured garbage? Damn right we do! Where else should we get our energy? Coffee? Energy drinks? Iced tea? High end drugs? A combination of all four? Something has to propel us along.
Picture the daily routine: Ranges, grills, fryers and ovens are fired up as Chefs' prepare and don their pristine white jackets, black and white checkerboard trousers and ‘’toque blanche’. The resonance of stainless steel against diamond encrusted metal permeates as knives are sharpened to a keen edge. Table surfaces are polished to a glistening sheen, kitchen porters stack plates in hot cupboards, sweep the floors and dispose of lunchtime rubbish bags. The atmosphere and tension begins to mount soon as the first patrons begin to arrive. Before long, what I call 'the dance of the morons' will begin, a crescendo of "Check On" and "Table Clear" will echo amid the white tiled walls of the kitchen. Hackles will rise and the minions will shudder with petrification as the Chef begins his long tirade of orders and verbal abuse, with everything coming together in perfect synchronisation for each table. A tense, exquisite harmony organised chaos.
The aftermath is an elated feeling that consumes your whole being. A buzz of great magnitude that usually results, in my kitchen anyway, with an impromptu karaoke of classic chilled hits along the lines of ‘Moondance’ by Van Morrison, ‘Sweet Gene Vincent’ by the ‘always amazing but dead’ Ian Dury and the Blockheads mixed in with some New York punk.
Then comes the rituals. Lower level chefs earn a pittance and can’t really even afford to get to work, let alone an evening eating foie gras, veal or blowfish. Processed foods are part of their, our, everyday lives. What some would call the food of the gods is with us, and comes in many forms, conveniently wrapped in cellophane – cheap to buy and easily produced.
Many governing bodies now state that you are at greater risk of particular types of Cancer if you eat these products… Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting a diet of highly sugared breakfast cereals and slices of ground hooves and ox genitalia, but if people fancy that piece of white bread crowned with canned Ravioli or Tortilla Chips (Nacho Cheese flavour topped with Cheez Whiz) then why not?
As a professional, I feel we are now over-complicating food. Extravagant adaptations of classics from all over the known world are taking an industry of purity and finesse, stuffing it with foie gras, wrapping with chorizo and pomegranate seeds, then deep frying it in extortionately expensive extra virgin olive oil. Serving the resulting over a flavoured swamp turd on a bed of grated carrot, celeriac and pilchards drizzled with a sauce of pressed oysters and sweet basil and finishing with a sprinkle of brick dust. Delectable. Want to clog an artery? Give this a try:
Chefs Pasta Mash Up
Quite simple really. Go to your nearest supermarket or food court, purchase a small tub of soft cream cheese (NO LOW FAT), a couple of Pepperamis (I find the hot and spicy ones the best) and a pack of your favourite dried pasta. Personally I prefer Linguine. Cook pasta according to packet guidelines. Take Pepperamis, slice thinly and add to a pan with a knob of butter or margarine and sauté over a medium heat. If you are starting to feel guilty about the saturated fats which begin to leak from the sausage – add mushrooms to soak it up…no one will see. Cook until the sausage begins to darken and add the pasta into the pan. Allow it soak up the ‘flavours’ and then add a good helping of Cream Cheese. Cook for a few minutes, season and serve. Total preparation and cook time…10 minutes max. Total fat content and ‘nasty stuff’ that you shouldn’t really be eating…
WHO CARES? Bon Appetit!
Editor's note: ONE Magazine/The Grumpy Chef is not responsible for diabetes, heart failure, or any other health issue that could in whole or in part be related to the Grumpy Chef recipes.
Excuse me while I get an Alka Seltzer.
Le Chef Grincheux