A curry a day helps you work, rest and play

Sorry, can't stop long. I've got the urge. Got to go to Nottingham for a curry. Why Nottingham? Why not Uttar Pradesh, Rawalpindi, Smethwick or some other spot customarily associated with the divine heat of the curry? Well, the reason is that boffins at Nottingham Trent University have declared that curry is addictive. Just like other addictive experiences, a chicken korma sends the consumer's heartbeat and blood pressure sky-rocketing. Moreover, the fix has to get stronger and stronger, so an innocent who starts with a packet of curry-flavoured mini-poppadams is liable to end up shovelling down buckets of vindaloo.

Sorry, can't stop long. I've got the urge. Got to go to Nottingham for a curry. Why Nottingham? Why not Uttar Pradesh, Rawalpindi, Smethwick or some other spot customarily associated with the divine heat of the curry? Well, the reason is that boffins at Nottingham Trent University have declared that curry is addictive. Just like other addictive experiences, a chicken korma sends the consumer's heartbeat and blood pressure sky-rocketing. Moreover, the fix has to get stronger and stronger, so an innocent who starts with a packet of curry-flavoured mini-poppadams is liable to end up shovelling down buckets of vindaloo.

However, there is one singular advantage to curry-addiction. You don't actually have to eat it to get high. Just anticipating a plate of spicy nosh can get you high. So that's why you encounter scarcely anyone on the streets on a Friday night who isn't out of their tree. All that looking-forward to the end-of-evening curry has sent them high as kites. Very likely, not a drop of alcohol has passed their lips all night.

According to Professor Stephen Gray, who led the research into this feverish topic: "It is like sex on a plate." What sage words from the prof.

I have often noticed that similarity myself. Just as alcohol imparts the desire for sex but often impairs the performance, so the common desire for a Friday is often accompanied by a marked inability to keep it down. I use the word "marked" advisedly, bearing in mind the Jackson-Pollock-like additions to the pavements one sees in this part of south London on Saturday mornings.

Though sponsored by Sharwoods, scarcely a disinterested party, the research into curries took a very proper - I suppose the mot juste is "pukka" - scientific form. The effects of three curry dishes on the metabolism of subjects were compared with those of a control meal. Now, what do you think the white-coats of Nottingham Trent University picked for that control meal?

A spot of lobster thermidor, a plate of coquilles St Jacques, roast rack of lamb? All would have had my heartbeat pounding a rumba to match that of the late Edmundo Ros. But no. What the boffins picked was fish and chips.

Now, I have nothing against that dish. Indeed, I have frequently poured lavish praise on that wonderful gastronomic marriage in the pages of this paper. On one of those occasions, I was even bylined as "our man in the chippie". But if they are going to achieve a peak of perfection, they have to be the right sort of fish and chips. Very fresh and cooked by professionals, preferably on the Yorkshire coast. Whitby, to be precise, though Robin Hood's Bay will do at a pinch. Now, I don't have the full report from the Dept of Curryology at Nottingham Trent University before me, but I harbour certain doubts about whether the "control meal" was produced under the aforementioned circs.

Fish and chips is a delicate dish to get right. But if you do, then I maintain that it will induce all the classic symptoms of an addictive experience. But if the fishy plateful happens to be a trifle elderly or flaccid or has spent a while out of the hot fat, then it's unlikely to give anyone's heartbeat or blood pressure much of a surge.

That seems to have been the case at Nottingham Trent University, where the heart-rates of fish-and-chip-consumers went up by a mere 3.2 beats per minute. In the case of the three curry dishes, which presumably involved no more expertise than opening a bottle and heating, the results were: tikka masala, 4.4 beats; korma, 4.9 beats; and rogan josh, 6.7 beats.

It doesn't sound like cricket to me. On the other hand, those words of Professor Gray ring in my head like a tocsin: "Sex on a plate. Sex on a plate. Sex on a plate." Time to head to Nottingham.

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