Monday, 25 January 2010

“That was lovely: as good as Marks and Spencers”

A couple of women customers, a weekday lunch and probably the first compliment that made me want to strangle the customer. It wasn't as if it was genuinely felt: at first our waiter thought it was a joke and he laughed. The customer then explained that she was serious and our waiter rushed to pass the good news on to the kitchen. He was enjoying how we were going to feel about that compliment.

At what point did Marks & Sparks become a byword for good food in this country? We talk a lot about the improvements in the quality of restaurants, the increasingly knowledgeable consumer, all those magnificent cookbooks. And it's all so much rubbish. As a country we've forgotten how to cook and all those cookbooks and programmes are just so much pornography: a substitute for the real thing.

The factory pap of M&S is the closest so many get to real home cooked food. Microwave the mashed potato, reheat that pie, shove that pseudo-italian bread in the oven and hear our grannies spinning in their graves. You want a measure of real food? Count how many butchers, grocers and fishmongers you have down your street.

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