Tag: food

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Freaky Eaters

Harry Hill, everyone’s favourite hipster* family comedian, used to regularly lampoon a TV show named Freaky Eaters during his Saturday evening entertainment show TV Burp.

The show (Freaky Eaters, not TV Burp) aired between 2007 and 2009 and each week followed the eating habits of people that were addicted to a particular type of food – crisps, chips, biscuits, chicken etc.

I can’t say I’ve ever been addicted to a particular type of food, but up until fairly recently I was an incredibly fussy eater and would steadfastly refuse to eat some of the most basic food types.

I’m reasonably sure that my food fussiness during my childhood stemmed from my Dad, who was (and still is) ludicrously fussy about the food that he eats. He’s not keen on foreign food at all (although I’m not sure if he’s ever actually tried it) so generally subsists on a diet of beef dinners. Nothing wrong with that, of course, you eat what you eat and it’s fairly nutritious!

(in case you’re reading, Dad, I don’t look back on my fussiness in a bad way, so don’t think that I “blame” you for anything!)

My brother Bob is also very fussy with his food, although he has improved in recent years. There’s a bit of a running joke in my family about Bob’s diet consisting entirely of meatballs and mashed potatoes – and they had to be specifically Campbells meatballs, from a can. I seem to remember reading ages ago that Campbells no longer exist, which is perhaps what spurred him on to widen his tastes.

So, what did I eat when I was a kid?

Well, apart from the usual Sunday roast dinners and Monday roast dinners (prepared on the Sunday, covered with clingfilm and then reheated in the microwave) I basically ate chips, sausages and burgers and not much else. I didn’t even really start eating burgers until fairly late on.

Even at school, instead of spending my lunch money on a decent lunch, I used to spend it at the first break time and buy six packs of salt and vinegar French Fries and munch those down in the 15 minute break, and then not really have much of a lunch.

Quite amazing really that I’ve always been tall and slender!

What didn’t I eat? Well, you name it, chances are I wouldn’t eat it. Bacon, eggs, cheese, most fruits, most vegetables, ham, curries, anything foreign, fish, rice, pasta, onions… I could go on.

And what changed?

I’m not quite sure exactly what it was that pushed me towards trying to change my tastes. I started working for Source when I was 20, and – just as it was in my family with Bob – it became something of a running joke whenever we went out for nights our or meals as a team that I wouldn’t eat anything more adventurous than fries and a burger.

At some point I can only assume I got sick of this, and decided to do something about it, and came up with an entirely new policy for myself – never outright reject a foodstuff, try it at least once. If you don’t like it, fair enough, but you can at least say you’ve tried it. I also added an additional “rule” – I have to regularly retry food items every 5 years or so to see if my tastebuds have changed.

This new policy has worked wonders, and I now regularly eat pretty much all of the things that I used to turn my nose up at.

I also now eat my steaks either medium-rare or rare, rather than well done. That was a gradual process, started since I entered into my relationship with Jem, but I can’t quite believe that I missed out on such goodness for so long.

image credit: demaria.nl

“Pretty much all?”

Yes, I’m not quite ready to claim the title of King Umami or anything. There are still certain foods that I still can’t stomach. The two main ones are eggs and cheese.

I try a fried egg every so often when we have a fry-up, and so far they’ve always seemed bland and tasteless (which I guess is kind of the point?) and the texture rubs me up the wrong way. But, I can at least eat bits of egg without retching now, so that’s progress. Mayonnaise can go jump off a cliff though.

The same goes for cheese, really. Time was I could not take it at all – one of my earliest memories is of primary school, back when I was 5 years old. We were doing a “blind taste test” – each child was blindfolded and then given a morsel of food that we had to try and then identify what it was.

I was about 8th in the queue, and the whole time I was waiting my turn I was thinking to myself, “please don’t give me cheese – please.” Of course, I put my morsel in my mouth and as soon as it hit my tongue I knew instantly that it was my nemesis and I reflexively spat it back out (apparently hitting my teacher in the face with it) and said “That’s cheese.”

I still can’t really eat it today. I can just about tolerate mozzarella on pizzas and parmesan grated over the top of pasta, but I’d really rather not and if I order a pizza (either at a restaurant or from the ASDA “build your own” counter) I’ll always order it sans fromage.

Other than those two (oh, and mushrooms – bloody evil things) I’ll eat pretty much whatever’s put in front of me these days, and I don’t even eat that many chips any more!

* OK, so he may not have a beard and he dresses rather… uniquely, but that crazy-oversized popped collar? Hipster before it was cool, man.

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Restaurant Review: The Silverton Hotel, Shrewsbury

This is going to be a bit of a weird review, primarily because I’ve been to The Silverton many times before and although the quality of their food has gone downhill in recent times (but don’t get me wrong – it’s still good stuff) I’ve never felt compelled to write a review of the place until now, and this isn’t going to be a glowing report.

The Silverton Hotel opened relatively recently by Shrewsbury’s standards and shortly after opening acquired something of a reputation for their food – quality I can attest to, at the time they were serving arguably the best steaks in the town.

It has now changed hands from the original management team and, based on my experiences this week, is a far cry from its former glory.

Tuesday

Kit (friend, colleague and extreme BeEx lurker) and I visited The Silverton on a whim on Tuesday lunchtime for a spot of “posh” lunch.

We both chose “The Famous Silverton Beef Burger“, although I felt compelled to check if the burger was served with cheese on it (I have an aversion to the stuff, nyurk) – I’m glad I did, as despite it not mentioning it on the menu, it was indeed cheesed-up to the nines. I requested they not put cheese on mine, and we waited.

About 15 minutes later, the waitress came over to our table and apologised to me, stating that the chef had put cheese on my burger, and asked if I was allergic. I’m not, fortunately (we didn’t have another 15 minutes to wait for a fresh burger to be made) so I asked the chef to simply remove the cheese from the burger.

As it happens, it was all very nice and the rest of the time passed without incident. Although I did note that pepper had been put into the salt shaker, and vice versa.

Wednesday

Last night, after being cruelly* denied a table at the new Smoke Stop BBQ restaurant on the outskirts of town, Jem and I went to the Silverton instead and decided to take advantage of their Two Steaks For £30 deal (which after 7pm is actually £35, but that’s still fine) – two steaks and a bottle of house wine, can’t be bad.

The waitress didn’t impress me right from the start. We gave over our drinks orders (“A coke” for Jem and “A pint of coke, with no ice” for myself) for her to then ask if we wanted ice with our drinks.

Then came time for our food order to be taken. Jem ordered “a sirloin steak, rare” while I decided to go with “a ribeye steak, medium rare, with peppercorn sauce.

Amazingly, the waitress then asked how we wanted our steaks cooked and whether we wanted any sauces. We repeated our requests, and when she read them back to us, said “So, that’s a sore lion steak, rare with no sauce, and a reeb-eye steak, medium rare with peppercorn sauce.”

I managed not to laugh at her pronunciation, but alarm bells were ringing. Still, I then ordered a bottle of house white as part of the deal, and thought no more of it.

I then asked the waitress if it would be possible to have a side order of onion rings – which, to be fair, weren’t on the menu (although the menu had no side dishes listed at all which I found a little odd) – she went off to check and later informed me that onion rings were not available. As they weren’t on the menu, I’ll let this one slide, even though they’re not exactly difficult to make…

A short while later, the bartender (who, up until now had been minding his own business in the bar area) came over with our wine, in an ice bucket with two glasses. Jem is currently doing #DryJuly, and we already had Cokes, so I asked the waiter to just leave the bottle as we’d be taking it home.

To my amazement, despite acknowledging what I’d said, he proceeded to put everything on our table and even said he’d leave the bottle in the ice so that it would stay chilled.

It was at this point that I started to wonder if the words that had been tumbling out of my mouth all evening were in the English language.

The food then arrived. Jem’s sore lion steak was severely overcooked given her request, and my ree-bye was cooked correctly but tasted incredibly bland. My peppercorn sauce was also so chock full of peppercorns that I literally could not dunk my chips in to the damn stuff.

At the end of our meals, we decided not to risk asking about dessert – I couldn’t face the prospect of having to repeat a conversation about ice cream flavours with the waitress – so we just went home, although Jem couldn’t resist getting in a complaint about how her steak was overcooked.

That’s about it – I’ll give them another chance, they’re very local and are usually very good, but it will have to be much improved next time.

Rating: 1/5

* My own fault for not thinking to book a table, curses!

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Restaurant Review: Bistro Jacques, Shrewsbury

The Shrewsbury Flower Show is in full swing, and Alex and I decided to take a brief trip into town to check out the crowds, have lunch and perhaps go for a bit of a walk while we were at it.

Unfortunately, the walk didn’t really happen (we had to get back to the car before our parking ticket expired!) but lunch happened, and I’m really rather glad it did.

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Restaurant Review: Henri’s, Shifnal

I took a trip over to Shifnal recently with Alex, to a restaurant called Henri’s. Situated on Church Street in the town, with an outside seating area and a (small) car park, it seems well placed for passing trade and the general aesthetic was nice. The menu offered a pretty good choice of starters and main courses, and a specials board was brought around which had a number of dishes on.

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