And Alex Said: Food

19 October 2002

Column 2: Food, 19th October 2002

I’d love to be able to cook properly and healthily. My diet over the last two years has consisted mainly of ready meals, crisps, chips, burgers, kebabs and pies. Especially pies. They’re easy to shove in the oven and damn tasty, but they haven’t done much for my physique.

Of course, when I came to university, I was a great muscular hunk of a man with biceps the size of trees and capable of lifting car parks. Honest. But now I’m just a great lardy chunk of a man with biceps the size of pencils, and barely capable of picking up anything much bigger than a pint of Guinness.

I have tried to eat more healthily. One day I went to the supermarket, and I bought four lovely deep-green Granny Smith apples, five nice ripe bananas and a kilogram of potatoes.

Three weeks later I threw out four light-green apples which now resembled the bland “Golden Delicious” variety. I’m sure this is how they are cultivated – if a supermarket hasn’t sold a load of their tangy, flavoursome Granny Smiths by their Use By date, just leave your them out in the warehouse for a couple of weeks, and voila, a truckload of apples with all the flavour of soggy newspaper which you can label “Golden Delicious”.

The kilogram of potatoes was trying unsuccessfully to pretend it was a house plant, and, following several letters of complaint, I threw out the five brown mushy bananas which could now be smelt as far away as Amersham.

I thought I’d scrap the fruit and vegetables plan and decided to concentrate on doing actual cooking. I got “How to Cook” by Delia Smith. She was arrogant enough to try to tell me how to boil an egg! Well, I tried it. Several boxes of eggs later, I had probably successfully cooked enough which weren’t cracked or practically raw to finally have some breakfast.

However, by this time it was 6pm. So I turned the page. “Egg and Lentil Curry with Coconut and Picked Lime”. Hmm, steady now Delia – you’ve devoted the best part of a whole tree telling us how to cook an egg and now I’m supposed to have things like “3 cardamom pods, crushed” and “turmeric powder”? I thought I was taking it seriously when I made the special trip to buy eggs for the first time ever, and now you’re expecting somebody who can’t cook at all to have a full spice rack?

I think I’ll stick to the pies. My arteries may completely seize up well before I go to pick up my first pension payment, but at least I’ll have had 50 years of fool-proof, reasonably tasty British cuisine, rather trying to perfect one of Delia’s mad recipes. And how would I cope with becoming an old man anyway? Old people smell funny, watch Countdown, spend all day complaining and have all the strength of a particularly feeble gerbil. Oh well, it looks like I’m there already.