I first met him in Bordeaux; engorged with blood red corpuscles, not an inch of fat on him, he lay waiting for me, silent, still, gleaming and glistening.
Trouble was, he was the greyest, least interesting, specimen I had ever set eyes on. I just couldn’t stomach the thought of putting him in my mouth.
He’d been steaming in the kitchen for at least an hour before we met. It had yet to reach his heart…
He was, of course, Nanny’s very own version of the hamburger. Chargrilled? Not on your life, you might get prostate cancer or pancreatic cancer from the heterocyclic amines and polycycic aromatic hydrocarbons – Heston Blumenthal would be hard pressed to make them sound appetising. Steamed, less fat, but still French to the very heart. Blood red inside. He came accompanied by the only alternative to lettuce allowed in France.
The slow cooked, soggy, French bean. They pride themselves on their pottager. Grow acres of harricot vert every year. Pick them young and fresh. Line them up with military precision, snip their heads and tails, and then place them with reverence in a glass jar.
Then they put the glass jar in an old ‘nappy boiler’ and cook them until they turn a suitable grey green and soggy. Three years later, they remove the glass jar from its resting place in the spider ridden cave, and pronounce them fit to eat…
The grey hamburger and pile of soggy beans; sans salt naturally, might raise your blood pressure. Hospital food ala the land of gourmet food. Amazingly I survived.
In England, they have reversed this trend. English Nanny has announced that the grey/red hamburger might give you E-coli. She’d rather you got prostrate cancer. Westminster Council Food Nazis, the same people who pronounced breast milk a health hazard, have now decreed that you may not have your hamburger ‘rare’, it must be nuked. Whatever happened to the Codex Alimentarius?
Never heard of it? Let me tell you, for you do pay for it. Collectively, we have stuffed £13,000,000 quid into this organisation dedicated to ensuring that our food is suitably standardised.
The Codex Trust Fund was launched on 14 February 2003 by Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General of WHO, and Dr Jacques Diouf, Director-General of FAO, at a ceremony organized during the 25th (extraordinary) session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission. The Fund is seeking US$40 million over a 12-year period to help developing countries and countries in transition to increase their participation in the vital work of the Commission.
I may be unfairly judging the Codex crowd, but as far as I can see, in their first year they wanted $4m to send the people who donated the $4 to an international conference, where they would discuss how those who couldn’t raise any money could be helped to raise some money so that they could go to the meeting next year…….you’ll be relieved to hear that the EU Commission managed to donate enough money to be allowed to attend…their eventual objective, when everyone has donated enough money to allow everyone to attend, is to standardise food worldwide. ‘Deprived’ countries were given eight years in which to find the money to join the annual jamboree – since they’ve now been going for nine years, we are blessed with an International standard for a Pineapple, and God help the Orange that fails to live up to CODEX STAN 245-2004.
Yet the humble hamburger has eluded them?
France is reputedly the most profitable division of MacDonalds. It has adapted well to the French mentality. You see the French are raised from childhood to believe that at 12pm sharp, every day, you must be seated at a table and in front of you must be a platter of salad. When you have consumed that, you may partake of some near raw meat, with a single vegetable and definitely bread. Then you are allowed a modicum of cheese, followed by something sweet, and coffee, strong coffee. Go into a French MacDonalds – tray after tray reeling away from the counter at super fast speed containing – a small box of lettuce, a rare hamburger in bread with a single tomato as topping, a shrink wrapped piece of cheese, a donut, and a cardboard cup of strong black coffee. Job done, they are all sitting down at 12 pm, and yes, they do eat it all in exactly the prescribed order. Put the cheese on the hamburger? Don’t be daft, everyone knows that you eat the cheese separately. Sure, MacDonald’s will sell you a cheeseburger – but the French won’t be eating it. Wrong order see.
If the Codex crowd think they are going to part the nation that invented Steak Tartare from eating raw meat, they have another think coming. Minced and barely hot, it’s the only way to consume the tough French steak.