Katy Guest: Never suck on a poached pig's bum

It’s tripe to suggest TV chefs help us to cook

Share
Related Topics

I once took my parents to a trendy restaurant in south-central London that was famous for its espousal of nose-to-tail eating. Foodies were raving about its avant-garde use of tripe, and I'd heard that it kept some decent real ales.

After perching on minibar stools and scrutinising the menu, Mum and Dad had a little chat using only their eyes and then asked if we could eat somewhere else.

"Our parents made us eat this stuff when we were young and poor," they explained. "Now we can afford proper food and nobody can make us eat offal again."

When I went back to the restaurant weeks later with a fashionable friend, I was reminded once again that my mother is always right.

I remember that evening each time a new restaurant opens that attempts to rebrand cheap offal as an expensive delicacy, and whenever a famous chef thrusts something's entrails on a dubious public. I last saw it happen on Gordon Ramsay's The F Word, when the likeable Tom Parker Bowles decided to munch his way through a whole pig.

I can't imagine that the young Parker Bowleses were ever made to sit at the table until they had finished their faggots, and the enterprise seemed to him to be a marvellous novelty. Even so, I wished he hadn't butched it out with a pig's anus, complete with a trace reminder of the anus's primary purpose.

Because of this, I greeted with suspicion the news that Parker Bowles doesn't think much of the British way of cooking. Speaking ahead of his appearance at this weekend's Independent Woodstock Literary Festival, he called British foodies "a nation of voyeurs". We watch celebrity chefs "but we don't always learn from them," he complained. But I did learn from his appearance on late-night Channel 4: I learned never to suck on a poached pig's bum.

As fun as it would be to mock Parker Bowles, though, he does have a point about this country and eating. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is one of the most popular chefs on British television, and yet still people refuse to notice that some food is made of dead things.

Last week, parents at Lydd Primary School in Kent reacted with horror when a lamb that had been reared to teach children about meat production was taken to slaughter... to produce meat. One outraged mother accused the headmistress of "murder". Maybe the meat that her family usually eats grows on trees.

Parker Bowles made a passionate plea for the return of cookery lessons in schools. Well, we're certainly not going to learn anything from most TV chefs. We watch Jamie Oliver for his raffish humour and the beautiful love affair between him and his gardener Brian now that The Fast Show's Ted and Ralph are no longer on our screens; not for handy tips on what to cook in our own personal outdoor pizza ovens. We tuned in to Keith Floyd to be reassured about our own drinking; not to learn how to gut a fish while horizontal. We watch Nigella ... but I don't know why.

The only telly cook who is any real practical use in the kitchen is Delia Smith, but she spoiled it all in her last series by trying to keep up with the newcomers. You can achieve a world- class choux or you can be A Personality, it seems; not both.

Parker Bowles is right: watching poncey cookery shows while eating a takeaway is a fun act of defiance, but only when you know you could cook if you wanted to.

All the same, I don't share his optimism. His new book, Full English, is a loveable ramble through the nation's cuisine, and well worth the price of the paperback. But if it turns its readers into capable chefs I will eat his recipe for pigs' bits.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
British Prime Minister Tony Blair (L) pictured shaking hands with Libyan leader Colonel Moamer Kadhafi on 25 March 2004.  

There's nothing wrong with Labour’s modernisers except how outdated they look

Mark Steel
 

Any chance the other parties will run their election campaigns without any deceit or nastiness?

Nigel Farage
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee