Middle-class problems: Restaurant menus
By Robert Epstein
What to have, what to have, what to have… *drums fingers on menu, slides fingers up and down menu, drums again, sighs.*
Of course, now we eat out more – a recent report suggested we spend a third of our food and drink budget on it, amounting to a total of £52bn a year for UK consumers – but that doesn't necessarily mean we know just what it is that we're eating.
Not because of the horse-meat blah-blah. But because Britain is now a foodie nation, and any middle-classie worth their Maldon wouldn't be seen brown-bread in anything less than either the hottest new place in town or a celebrated hotspot that's just received a second star – which in turn means being faced with a bevy of unlikely ingredients.
Please, we're not talking soil here; we're all au fait with the Noma dirt du jour. No, we're talking tatsoi (it's a brassica, silly. And don't start asking what's a brassica, or we'll start wondering about the very basis of your middle-class credentials), gnudi (a ricotta-based gnocchi) and gai lan (broccoli. It's broccoli).
And even when our palates can tell the difference between cow parsley and common-or-garden parsley, the cooking processes can be enough to send anyone but the most dedicated MasterChef aficionado to despair.A monkfish bourride, is it? Excellent. Brunoise of veggies? Wouldn't eat 'em any other way.
And once you've chosen the £29 skate, there it is, on its tod. What, it doesn't come with potatoes? Why didn't you say? All right, I'll take them… yes, why not: I shall take them scalloped.