Some of you may have seen my 10 Crimes Against Food article. I’d been toying with the idea of writing a sequel to that, but couldn’t find enough that truly were crimes against food. Most of them were petty annoyances at best. But then I noticed how many trends, and “buzzwords” there are flying about at the moment that piss me off. So I decided to put them all together into a list of culinary annoyances, buzzwords, clichés, and things that people in the food industry should just stop doing.
Just… stop it with the pop-ups already. Whether it’s an annoying advert in the corner of your screen, or a one night stand you had eight months ago turning up out of the blue looking like the side of a house, things popping up are seldom a good thing. So why would we do that to our food outlets? Just what is this trend with “pop-up” stuff anyway?
Seems like half the population just decided to go serve [insert food here] out of an abandoned warehouse/old renovated caravan/disused bus shelter (delete as applicable). The annoying thing is when they actually do something that sounds like it might be good, like something you wouldn’t mind trying. But then you found out that it was only last Wednesday from 2 till 4. And it ran out at quarter to three.
2: Sourdough Bread & Other Americanizms.
These keep popping up everywhere these days like, well – like a pop-up. “Sourdough” bread has been around for years and it was never a big deal. But suddenly everyone’s obsessed with it, probably because it sounds vaguely American. There’s a wave of Americanization (see, I even did the Z) that’s invading the British food scene at the moment, and it doesn’t show signs of stopping. Luckily we’ve bought some corn for popping. Oh god, we’re back to pop-ups again. Anyway…
“Buckwheat” is another guilty term. “Sliders”. I even saw “cilantro” in place of “coriander” on a menu recently – in London. It can be an omission of a word too, such as dropping the “hot” in “hot dog”.
That’s not a dog. This is a dog.
So anyway, moving on to…
3, 4 & 5 – The “Unholy Trinity”.
The next three are all guilty of #2, and are often found at #1s. I had to lump them all together because when you find one in London these days, you’re never far from the other two (and often two of these are contained by the third). Yes, I’m referring to the new pandemic plaguing our menus in the form of:
You literally cannot move for pulled pork these days. I would like to point out that I have no problem with pork – I adore pork in… most of it’s forms. It’s just the use of the word “Pulled”. What, did you take it down the pub, ply it with cider then give it a good seeing to round the back by the bins? When did it start becoming cool to pull, anyway? Why is it necessary to highlight the fact that you had to pull your meat? Sorry, I apologise. I just wanted to put “pull your meat” up on my website. Tee hee.
Anyway, this whole ‘pulled’ thing has gone far enough. See below:
As you can see, even KFC have gotten in on the act, introducing “pulled chicken” to their menus because, chicken is what they do after all. I’ve always said some of their products should be pulled, but this is not what I meant. This should have made my previous list – this is at least 5 crimes against food all by itself! I’ll eat my mankini the day a restaurant near me serves up “Pulled Tofu”.
Please stop calling it “slaw”! It doesn’t make it sound cooler, it makes it sound like you’re trying to sound American. Again. We’ve been over this. And this one in particular just doesn’t work in an English accent. Again it’s more the word that I have an issue with here – while we’re on the subject I also hate the terms “mayo” and “sarnie”. As with pork, I’m not debating that it doesn’t taste nice. It can do, although I prefer it in it’s traditional “cole” form rather than its litter of bastard children such as “Asian slaw”, and “Southern slaw” to name but two. Then there’s “Beetroot and Apple slaw”. A coleslaw made with Apple? Sounds like an iSlaw to me.
Ooh look, a shiny bun.
When did it become the law that all burgers had to be served in one of these? They feel all greasy too when you pick them up, that glaze on the top makes it feel like you’re eating a fucking donut. Replacing the good old fashioned burger bun with a brioche bun just reeks of snobbery to me.
Now I have this vision of all those poor out of work burger buns on the dole all lining up going “They took our jerbs!!”
6: Goats Cheese & Caramelised Red Onion
This one’s been around for a while now. Why is this still the go-to vegetarian dish? Usually found in a tart, originally this was a perfectly innocent and quite tasty combination. The problem is it’s being done to death, to the point where it now seems like a safe option for anyone needing a veggie option without having to put any thought into it. “Yeah, just give them a bit of cheese and some onions”. It shows lack of imagination. Must do better.
7: “Craft” VS “Artisanal”
I’ve seen these two combined with #1 plenty of times. Aren’t they the same fucking thing? Well, not quite. But they’re both used in the same context by pretentious twats. The word ‘artisanal’ used to mean “made by artisans”, and was a magical word – conjuring up images of masterful sages in faraway lands, expertly honing their skills over many years. Probably in caves. Nowadays, “artisanal” means “made by hipsters”, and is a word you add to a menu item to justify charging an extra three quid for it. Use it like this and, congratulations – you are a pretentious twat. You have no right to use the word ‘artisanal’ unless you have spent at least twenty years doing what you do, preferably in a cave.
“Craft” is the lesser of the two evils as it seems a tad more humble. Calling something “craft” doesn’t imply mastery as such, simply that you made it yourself. But it’s still a whole load of snobfuckery. To make matters worse, on at least one occasion I’ve seen the two words melded into one to create the supremely evil bastard-word “Craftisan”. This word needs to be taken to Mordor right away and thrown straight into the fires of Mount Doom. If you ever, EVER, use this word, I am going to kill you. Don’t think about it. Don’t even look at it. Just keep reading. I know where you live.*
*I may or may not know where you live.
8. Too Many Cooks Make Cake Shows.
I shit you not, there is actually a programme called “Cupcake Wars”. And people watch it!!
A work colleague of mine loves the Great British Bake Off, and tried to convince me that I’d like it. I did try and watch it once but I lasted about five minutes. If you’ve never seen it, I won’t spoil it for you. It’s literally people putting dough into ovens and taking out bread. And occasionally making crap jokes about putting dough into ovens and taking out bread (or innuendoughs, as they’re also known). Has British TV really reached a new low? This is one area where we should be copying the states. America is coming out with shoes like Breaking Bad, and the best we can do is a bad programme about baking? Come on, people.
Stop doing this thing with the prices, please. I beg you. This picture isn’t a great example but it’s the only one I can find. You’ve just written out a whole description of a dish but you can’t be bothered to write the price properly? You just put “8.5” instead of £8.50? What the fuck is that about? It’s not cool, it’s not clever, it’s just “hip and trendy”. (Read – massively uncool). Stop it.