Friday, November 25, 2011

Frankenstein and the Four Bird Roast

We were sitting around idly the other night watching a Bushtucker Trial on I’m a Celebrity... and waiting for the adverts to come on, when all of a sudden the parallel paths of fantasy and reality took a ghastly wrong turning and became inextricably linked.

One minute a D-list celebrity was chomping on some of the less savoury parts of a camel.

The next moment, one of the supermarkets was trying to persuade us of the virtues of something called a Four-Bird Roast.

Now the Four-Bird Roast, it would appear, is going be the Big Thing this Christmas.

Imagine if you will (or even if you won’t) a tightly pressed sandwich of four different species of avian flesh; a Frankensteinian layer cake of formerly feathered protein.

Never mind the common-or-garden three-bird jobby offered by other supermarkets. This, we are asked to believe, is true celebrity fare: neatly packaged and ready to take pride of place on your very own festive table.

We aren’t told which particular birds have been sacrificed: turkey and chicken are natural shoe-ins, but what then? Duck, maybe, or goose? Swan hardly seems likely: auk, puffin, grebe or avocet even less so.

Sir David Attenborough would have a thing or two to say about that.

They’ve done a similar thing with razors, incidentally. There was a time you could only buy single blades. Then it was twin blades, then three, then four.

And these days no self-respecting fella would scrape his cheeks with anything less than a five-blader.

The logical conclusion will be a razor with so many blades that you’d have to be an Olympic weightlifter to get it anywhere near your face.

But once you got it up there, it would only take one delicate stroke to remove every last bit of stubble.

Back to those food ads, though. Because hot on the heels of the four-bird roast comes a new and rather disturbing promotion for Colman’s gravy paste.

In which a glossy brown, animated ox is squeezed from a tube, boogies around a kitchen table to the strains of I Like The Way (You Moo) and then leaps in to a gravy boat. From which it is promptly poured out on to a plate of meat and two veg.

Dear advertisers, please take note. We Brits don’t actually like to think to carefully about where our food comes from. Just as the Victorians covered up furniture legs with drapes to preserve their modesty, we like our comestibles to be presented attractively, but demurely.

And while we're at it, we'd rather our mince pies tasted like mince pies. And not like Christmas trees, whatever fancy-flavoured icing sugar Heston Blumenthal may be promoting this festive season.

That’s why we cringe at the thought of a Bushtucker Trial. That’s why the Four Bird Roast tweaks and pulls at the dust sheets that normally cover the murkier corners of our imaginations.

And that’s why – although you can find a statue of a merry-looking pig dressed as a chef outside every self-respecting pork butchers in France – when a bull starts dancing around on a British TV screen persuading us to eat it in the form of gravy, we get all rather squeamish and have to go for a little lie-down.

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