Monday, September 19, 2005

River Cottage Forever







Hugh Fairly Windscreenwiper


I don’t have a great deal of time for celebrity chefs. The sight of Anthony Worrall Thompson makes me want to gag, and the sound of Ainsley Harriot whooping like an imbecile is enough to have me reaching for a shotgun. I’m not overly keen on chinless wonder toffs with double barrelled surnames either.

I’m prepared to make an exception for Hugh Fearnley Whittgingstall, the old Etonian and Oxbridge educated advocate of traditionally raised and matured meat. His back to basics sojourn at River Cottage was of course a fantasy. I’m sure that it’s not too difficult to make ends meet as a smallholder selling surplus radishes if Channel 4 is paying you £100K to make a TV series documenting your efforts.

The locals who appear in the deepest Dorset set series are portrayed as jovial yokels, fond of rabbit catching and scrumpy production. In reality I’m sure that they probably bear more of a resemblance to the inbred retards in ‘Deliverance’. When Hugh’s back was turned they probably indulged in a spot of incest and some light bestiality. Anybody called Silas with long bedraggled whiskers has to be a bit dubious.

I loved the episode where Hugh dismembered an enormous squid in his bathtub. If that isn’t devotion to culinary excellence then I don’t know what is.

The bucolic, self sufficient lifestyle, is a dream that could never be realised. Watching Hugh is a form of escapism; but he does draw attention to what we have lost with our reliance on factory farming. Properly matured, grass fed beef, and organically raised pork is available if we’re willing to pay the price. Having tasted the difference, I’m convinced that it’s worth paying a premium for the best. Imagine no more grey beef and cardboard pork; think of the anticipation as a well hung rib of beef sizzles in your oven. Food isn’t just fuel. We should treat the stuff with a bit more respect.

13 comments:

Sniffy said...

It's taken time, but I think at last the big retailers have noticed that there are plenty of people who are willing and able (and desperate) to pay extra for top quality, good organic food. It all stems back to the Good Life sitcom in the 70s - people laughed at Tom and Barbara's attempt at taking on the self-sufficient lifestyle. In a time when crap food cost more than top quality stuff (at today's prices), it was easy to scoff at those who strove to force home the organic message.

But they won. Where intensive farming has ruined consumer confidence in mass-produced food, the organic market has been coming up on the rails and is now no longer the preserve of cranks, weirdos and ponces with too much money.

We can thank Hugh Pugh for highlighting it, along with other TV chefs such as Rick Stein, even Gary Rhodes. But huge thanks must go to Tom and Barbara Goode and, of course, old jug ears, Prince Charles.

Wyndham said...

Myself and Mrs T now try and eat organic and, as they say, you never go back. It tastes better. But didn't Hugh Fearless Witlessfool once infamously cook up a placenta or some such. That may be the kind of thing they pop on the hob in Devon as a matter of course but doesn't go down well in North London. At least, Waitrose didn't have any.

Sniffy said...

Are you sure Waitrose didn't have any? I was at one in Norfolk and they had some very weird stuff in that store.

Then again, Norfolk...

garfer said...

Yeah, I remember the placenta eaters. The couple celebrating the birth of their child in this rather novel fashion were eco, weird beard, new age types.
I'm sure it's very nutritious, but I think I'll give it a miss.

Merkin said...

I entirely agree. And when I'm not permanently skint, I too will buy nothing except organic meat, from herds that have been pleasured daily by topless public schoolgirls (all of whom are over 18, whose daddies own Wiltshire), and have non-stop Digital Radio piped to their fields. I'm off to cook vegetarian-on-toast. Yummmmm.

PS Did you draw that picture of Huge Fairground-Whitbyfish, Garfer old man? Very artistic...

garfer said...

A vegetarian on toast would be a meal sadly lacking in protein and essential vitamins and minerals.

pissoff said...

Well Garfer, anything that is well hung "think of the anticipation as a well hung..." definitely has a place in my home.

garfer said...

Donkeys are quite well endowed in the 'well hung' departmant. As, I believe, are Matthew Maconnaughy and Will Smith.

Gordon said...

Good food is, indeed, not fuel.

Crap food is, indeed, fuel.

This comment, indeed, has no point.

Sorry about that.

Aginoth said...

Have to like anyone who brings out a cook book called MEAT

Rowan said...

I must admit, i buy whatever is cheap.

suburban wonder said...

My great-grandmother lived off the grid (I don't know if that's the expression in the UK - it is here), and let me tell you, it was a royal pain in the arse visiting her. Heating up your bathwater on a wood stove was not my idea of fun. Nor was collecting eggs for dinner. Chickens are vicious little birds, and they stink, too. It's enough to put you off of omelettes for life.

I agree, in principle, with organic farming. I wouldn't want to be the farmer, though. I also know that if I had to kill my own meat, I'd live off of chickens.

So what's the general consensus on Jamie Oliver - git or not?

garfer said...

Oliver was universally regarded as an utter twat until he did some work with unemployed kids, and exposed the scandal of nutritionally dreadful UK school dinners.
He's still a liver lipped tosspot in my book, but you have to give credit where credits due.
I'm not obsessed with organic foods, I just think that less intensive agriculture produces a better product.