The Great British Menu is back on TV – that’s something in these dreary winter months for Mr B and I to look forward to, culinary experts that we are. Not.
If you haven’t ever watched the Great British Menu, then the gist of it is that, over the course of a week, chefs from a particular region of the UK cook their way through four courses – starter, fish course, main
and dessert. The best chef, as voted by a trio of awesome judges (including the truly wonderful Pru Leith) goes through to a cook-off with the best from all the other regions for the honour of cooking a course at a major future event. This year the event is
a banquet at the Royal Albert Hall to celebrate 25 years of Red Nose Day. Which means that the chefs are all required to add a little comedy to their cooking.
one of the chefs from the South East presented his starter on what looked like a miniature disco dance floor, complete with ear-phones pumping out music from the 80s. A fellow competitor, not to be outdone, cooked a dish involving both chicken and egg which
emitted clucking noises. His theme was “Which came first the chicken or the egg?” I didn’t think it was all THAT funny – but his food must have tasted OK because he scored 9 out of 10.
And that was only day 1 of the competition, remember. How much more hilarity can they dish up ovwer the next several weeks? And will Mr B be expecting me to follow suit when it’s my turn to cook
When my Gang were littl’uns I wasn’t too bad at the Fun Food. I’m thinking of mashed potatoes served up in the shape of
a boat, with sausage funnels, bobbing in a sea of baked beans. And every apple pie I cooked came with a smiley face carved carefully into the pastry lid. But today I’m cooking Mr B plain old ordinary mince, with mashed potato and savoy cabbage.
How can I tart that up to bring a smile (if not a laugh) to his lips?
Years ago, when I was Brown Owl of the 3rd Staplehurst Brownie Pack (the Dads,
incidentally, used to call me “Brown Ale”...) we enjoyed many a happy Pack Holiday. And one of the requirements of our daily menus was imaginative descriptions of the food on offer. Every Pack Holiday had a theme, based on the bedtime book
we read every evening. So, for example, on the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory holiday, our menus included such delicacies as “Charlie’s Chops ‘n’ Chips”, Wonka's Waffles, Charlie Bucket's Biscuits and, of course, Oompa-Loompa
Pie and Mash (yes, of course, the mash was lumpy, it wouldn’t have been Oompa Loompa Mash otherwise...)
My advice to the Great British Menu chefs would be
to ditch the decorative trimmings, stick to a delicious dish – and give it a funny name to make the judges laugh. I doubt they will listen to me. They are enjoying the gimmicks too much – but then, to be fair, I’d probably be the
same if I had someone like Super Chef Richard Corrigan asking me every five minutes: “Where is the humour in this dish..?”
Mr B, by the way,
tucked into Mighty Mince and Mash with Cheeky Cabbage tonight, followed by Blueberry Jelly-Belly-laughs.
I am disappointed to report that he didn’t seem
to see the humour in my cooking...