I've had a funny old week, one way or another. I've been doing a little bit more relaxing and taking it easy than normal, as I recover from my prostate biopsy. Although there was no real pain involved, the side effects are not fun. As ever, when I have too much time on my hands, I start thinking on rather strange tangents. A minor obsession of mine is tinned foods. Have you noticed how any tinned food tastes completely different to the fresh version? Sometimes they are better, sometimes they are worse.
The first time I had barbeque fresh sardines, after a life of eating tinned ones cold, it was a revealation. The same can be said of Tuna. I think I was in my 40's before I had fresh tuna. I was never a fan of the tinned variety, which tends to make the sarnies soggy. I was taken by my then Boss to La Pont De La Tour restaurant by Thames. He said "You've got to try the tuna mate, it is amazing, Bill Clinton ate it when he was in London". So I did and it was.
But then there are other things, where I much prefer the tinned version to the fresh ones. What is it about these tinned foods that make them so special. Then there are ones where I like both and they are just different. I did this list before for list #192, but I realised it was a lousy list, so it needed revising. These were the tinned foods I'd lived on, but not that I'd liked. So here is the proper list.
So here we go.
1. Frey Bentos Steak and Kidney pies. These are my biggest guilt pleasure. If I ever get divorced, I will celebrate with one, as my Missus always berates me and tells me they are th food of the devil. Not that she'd know as She's a vegetarian!
2. Ambrosia Rice Pudding. I don't do Dairy anymore, but if I did, this would be top of the list. I've never had a rice pudding to match it. Rice puddings have a special place of legend in our house. My sister Caroline went to the trouble of starting to make a rice pudding, got bored and told mum it was me. As I was five years old, even Mum saw through her cunning ruse. Her defence was "That was the wrong type of rice and I know that, he wouldn't". To this day she swears blind I made it, whilst we all snigger. The trouble people have when they make Rice Pudding is that they try and be too clever. Ambrosia just does what it says on the tin. A dollop of strawberry jam to top off.
3. Libby's tinned peaches. I love these. They were the pudding of my youth, topped with tinned cream. They are wonderful. Fresh peaches? Well, in France they are wonderful. They melt in your mouth, but the ones they send here are often too hard, the stones get stuck and they are a bit string and hairy.
4. Guinness. You simply cannot beat a tin of Guinness. My mum was diagnosed as having terminal stomach cancer in 1970. She lived until 2008, largely on a diet of Guinness. At one point she was drinking eight pints a night. In her final years, I'd nip in every night and have a tin with her. In 1984, she asked her doctor if she was drining too much. He said "Well Celia, eveyone else on the planet who had the operation you had in 1970 is dead now, and your Guinness has kept you going, but if you can cut down from eight pints a night to 3 or 4, it may be better".
5. Heinz Alphabetti Spaghetti. It is beyond me why posh chefs such as Gordon Ramsey don't do this. This is the best fun. It may taste of nothing, which can easily be rectified with some Lea and Perrins, chilli flakes and pepper, but I used to love making rude words. As a kid, if I could make "Lorry smells" or "Caro is a Bum" and then show them, I'd feel elated for a week. My siblings, being smart arses were too clever for the game. Laurie would try and spell "Roger is Flatulent" but as I couldn't really read and didn't know what flatulent met, it was wasted on me.
6. Sabarot Burgundy Snails. Our old bassplayer, God rest his soul, had a wonderful French Girlfriend called Christine. When I was going out with Lorna, Christine invited us for dinner. She'd cooked up a proper french treat, with snails as the first course. I'd never seen anyone look as horrified as a Lorna. She loved Christine and didn't want to offend her, so she managed to shovel them onto my plate when Christine wasn't looking. They were drenched in garlic and were wonderful. I gleefully tucked in. Afterwards Lorna was really thankful and said "You really pretended to enjoy them". I thought my luck was in, but she wouldn't let me near her for a week as I stunk of garlic. They are wonderful, but you need Christine to cook them.
7. Baxters Mediterranean Tomato soup. I miss Budgens in Mill Hill. Whilst M&S are wonderful for many things, they don't stock many great bands. Baxters soups are wonderful. This is my favourite. I was a vegetarian between 1984 and 2000 and these were my light lunch of choice, with a slice of crusty roll. I must get some.
8. Heinz Cream of Mushroom soup. My sister Valerie had a book called the "How to cheat cookbook". In it they said if you wanted to make a wonderful chicken disk, bake som chicken breasts for 50 minutes and when there was 15 minutes to go tip a tin of Heniz cream of mushroom soup over it. It worked like a dream. It works with cod as well.
9. John West Anchovies in Olive Oil. These are amazing on toast. These are the one tinned fish that are better than fresh ones. I recently went to a fancy restaurant and this was the starter. They didnt say they were John West but I was 99% sure they were. A bit of pepper and I''m in heaven!
10. Epicure Mandarin Oranges. I have saved the best for absolutely last. These are so good. Although fresh mandarins are nice, there's all the skin and pith etc. These are just the good bit. In fact I think I'll get some right now.
I must apologise for list #192. It was lazy, populist and very poor in truth.
Have a great weekend