Pumpkin Publog

Apr 05

Num-bilical Cord

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As a sort of penance for Zoe Williams’ rubbish piece (see below), the Guardian published this enlightening write-up of traditional kipper and herring production. As is often the case when I read a G2 article and think “hold on, this is interesting”, it turned out to be an excerpt from a forthcoming book, awfully titled The Land That Thyme Forgot, which looks to be all about old school British food culture. Should be interesting – the line seems to be that Britain has a rich culinary tradition (yay!) but has utterly neglected it (boo!).

Apr 05

Rockism* Of The Palate

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Zoe Williams is a funny writer but a lot of her longer pieces read like half-baked message board posts (and I should know). This one, railing against the current fashion for liver and bone marrow, is no exception. Williams builds a straw man that would have made Christopher Lee proud as she attributes any possible motive to middle-class offalophiles – they’re being perverse, they’re flaunting their wealth, they’re inverse snobs on an authenticity grab.

Occam’s dripping cleaver would suggest that they – who am I kidding, we – eat offal because we like it. But oh no. A seasoned Freaky Trigger reader might draw parallels between the liver fan and the grown-up pop fan, who is painted as lecherous, ironic, guilty or simply lying. Zoe Williams hates offal: this is her look-out, but her preferences aren’t universal. It is true that offal has been ‘rediscovered’ lately – perhaps this is because a generation who grew up hating it are now learning how to cook it well. I always liked kidney, but liver was a charred and leathery school dinner nightmare. On the other hand so were carrots and peas, and nobody is accusing vegetable-eaters of faking it. Williams has a go at the fancy restaurant culture, but everyone I know who’s been to a place like St John has come back dying to try out those foods and styles in their own kitchens. This rediscovery is genuine.

*as ever, fry this word lightly with a pinch of salt.


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I would like one of these for my birthday please, June 21, thank you. Wow! It’s the Sunbeam PIE MAGIC 4! It basically a toastie maker, but instead of making toasties, makes REAL ACTUAL PIES. Dear lard I think I’ve died and gone to pie heaven. I quote….

Sunbeam Pie Magic 4 allows you to quickly prepare scrumptious snacks, meals and desserts using your choice of delicious and imaginative fillings. Pie edges are sealed perfectly with exclusive crimper seal, locking in delicious pie fillings.

Note the explicit reference to “crimper seal”, which is just fancy for “a pie lid”. And only 68 Australian dollars! Isn’t that like, 50p or something?


Apr 05

Indie Chicken

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Supplement A

Well, it might not have been purchased from a shop dedicated to the art of fried poultry (and the occasional lipsmacking rib), but it was certainly very independent. Some greasy kebab shop on the Lower Clapton Road (of which there are many) provided me with a couple of pieces of fried beast (species indeterminate) the other Sunday evening, when filthy food was sorely needed after a lengthy walk down the Lea Valley and a couple of pints. The ‘chicken’ was dried out and crusty (and not in a good fresh bread type way) from sitting like Miss Havisham in the hot cabinet while most customers to the shop ordered chunks of sweaty lamb, watched hungrily as they were grilled and popped in pittas, then left to devour them at the bus stop, but nevertheless I requested some, not being in the mood for hot kebab action. The experience was adequate if leathery, but becomes a pearl of memory when compared to the horrific 2-hour multi-bus journey home after a road traffic accident blocked off the only passable route through Stoke Newington.

Anyway, my question is this: How wrong (or indeed wilfully perverse) is it to eat something from a shop or restaurant that is not the establishment’s stated speciality, even if you don’t particularly like the speciality or have been dragged there when you’re not feeling it? Now, I’d generally sneer at ordering chips in a Chinese takeaway, for example, or refusing smacking-fresh fish at the seaside, as it seems indicative of small-mindedness and fear of the unknown. However, I don’t feel there’s that much in it when you’re talking lardy fast food, although ardent connoisseurs of Middle Eastern grilling may disagree.

BAD Story

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Underneath The Archesss….
Peckham Rye Station. Underneath. Now Neil Gaiman – King Of The Goths – wrote a shonky TV series called Neverwhere which took place in the forgotten places under London. Bar Story is the licensed establishment version of this rubfest, just not as goth. More importantly though, forgetfulness is the byword of the place. Like staff forgetting drinks, customers, food happily burning under the grill.

And yet it is a nice place. A pleasantly breezy arch with half hearted corrugated iron to help insulate the sound (it doesn’t) and make it look lie a cheap Blake’s 7 set*. The regulation thrift store tables and chairs were set out almost canteen fashion up to the decks at the back where good friends of mine were putting some very tasty looking Tannoy speakers to the test. It had a Glastonbury vibe, fresh air, the waft of cooking and music.

But the staff. Can I count the number of way that the staff let us down. It got almost amusing after they started scurrying into the rain to pour lager from a spigot. Cocktails made with the expertise of a five year old playing with the bathroom cabinet. The food smelled nice, and the chef at least seemed to own some whites, but after the previous billows of smoke from toast, we were put off. Perhaps it was just the curious juxtaposition of a friendly building, and unfriendly staff that means it might ping my radar again.

Peckham may not need a style bar, so perhaps it is just as well Bar Story isn’t one.

*Unable to use Doctor Who in this comparison any more.

Apr 05

Pepsi Max Lemon & Lime

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Now I ranted on Pepsi Max a couple of weeks ago (and no-one responded to its Maxiness). But now there is Pepsi Max Twist Lemon & Lime. It tastes, unsurprisingly, of copper sulphate. But it is the Max philosophy that I find amusing. Yet again we have Pepsi Max going that one step further than Diet Coke. Yep, you can get Diet Coke with Lemon. And also Diet Coke with lime. But only someone who grew up in the 1970’s in the UK would think of adding Ki-Ora Lemon & Lime Cordial to something horrible like Pepsi Max. Bravo!!!

Things I never thought I’d hear myself say (food and drink section) – No. 1*

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‘I wish there was an Upper Crust here’

Edinburgh Aiport yesterday, on discovering that there was bugger all food to be had for breakfast in the departure lounge.

* ooh look – it’s another Freaky Trigger series that I’ll doubt I’ll get around to doing anymore on

Apr 05

Cheese Idea

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Stressed PM turns to cheese

No, not a radical world domination plan wherein the modern day equivalent to Goldfinger has a ray which can literally turn world leaders into cheese. Rather a small story about how we can deal with stress with cheese. Good to know he doesn’t get nightmares.

Apr 05


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Just because we forgot to blog it last week. Three days after discovering the pie heaven that was the Pillars Of Hercules, we returned to find: all the pies were gone. We wondered if Wiley had popped into the PoH so altered was the pie situation. So we ask with all seriousness. Who Ate All The Pies?

Apr 05

Wolves & Dudley fancy a Jennings

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The continued operation of Jennings’ brewery in Cockermouth would be key, they say [blogged because i am a big fan of some of those wonderful Jennings ales, such as the Cumberland].

what does it mean, oh anyone who knows the games the big boys play?

they reassure Jennings drinkers – additionally it sounds all very happy from the Cumbrian POV – but there again since buying out Burtonwood the fine Bulls Head {Burtonwood estate} pub in Manchester town centre has been mostly, or entirely, closed (not that my parochialism is clouding my judgment..).

as established below, opinions vary over Kronenburg Blanc (no fan myself).
but what is the most expensive pint for it?
someone mentions four coins in comments, i know of a 3.80 ap Fulham way.
to finish, more northwest nationalism, in that this appraisal of a Boston, MA pizza franchise transplanted from the Mcr flags up amusing differences.
further googling reveals most Americans to be no fans of the English touches of a sticky toffee on the sweet tray, but in the end either approving of the place quite well, or not at all.
and what is this about the nods for a large assortment of wines by the glass?
perhaps it is mostly bottles in New England.