The Food Rant

Not good enough: needs a salad garnish...

Not good enough: needs a salad garnish…

It must have been all that fresh air on the Pennine Way. I started ranting about food on the first night and I haven’t stopped since.

“What’s on the menu?” I said to Ben. Jane had decanted us in Malham and we started walking in the morning. But first some delicious Yorkshire home cooking in the pub.

Or maybe not…

“Award winning Malhamdale sausages,” my son said.

“Awesome, I’ll have those. What about you?”

“Rabbit pie. And it says the rabbits were ‘locally shot by Dave Parker.’”

“Well let’s hope the vegetarian society doesn’t have its AGM in Malham. Dave’ll have to go into hiding.”

My ‘award winning’ sausages arrived. Except they weren’t. If they really had won an award then the judge was the butcher’s wife. But everything’s ‘award winning’ days isn’t it? Either that or it’s ‘world famous.’

It’s now impossible to go into any café without being offered our ‘award winning sausage rolls’ or our ‘world famous beans on toast.’ There are least three cafés on Scarborough sea front boasting of their ‘world famous fish and chips.’ Yep, I suspect that out there in LA they talk of nothing but Winking Willy’s haddock.

And then we moved on to breakfast. Let’s define toast shall we? For the benefit of the vast majority of hotels I’ve ever stayed in and four out of five B&Bs on the Pennine Way, toast is not lukewarm bread that has spent thirty seconds in the same postcode as the toaster. Toast is brown, warm and slightly crisp when you bite into it. And does toast in a B&B have to be the lowest common denominator?

Damn it, bread has moved on since Mother’s Pride sliced white and that thin Hovis bread that goes impossibly brittle as soon as it shakes hands with a toaster.

How can they get toast so wrong? It cannot be one of the advanced modules at catering college

I’ll stay with breakfast and something that needs sorting out pretty damn quickly. I realise Theresa May has her hands full with Brexit but this needs adding to her to-do list. That’s the wretched practice of B&Bs handing you a form as soon as you arrive and saying, “Can you let us know what you want for breakfast?”

What I want for breakfast is choice. I don’t want to commit myself the night before. It’s like Jane winking at me and saying, ‘All the children will be out three weeks on Friday. What position, darling?’

Microwaving baked beans. Another cardinal sin. Yes I know you can microwave beans, but you don’t. You put them on low, take your wife a cup of tea, get dressed (unless it happens to be three weeks on Friday) go back downstairs and your beans are ready. And then you put them on some delicious, crispy, medium-brown toast. See how it all hangs together?

…Until some idiot introduces the salad garnish. A culinary malfunction that reached its zenith one night in Hawes. We ate in a café that best resembled a school dining hall. We placed our order with the dinner ladies and the lamb (me) and steak pie (Ben) duly arrived. Both with a salad garnish.

I looked around. Everyone’s plate had a salad garnish. Lettuce leaf, half a tomato, two slices of cucumber. A woman at the next table had nearly finished. All that was left on her plate was a fried egg and two slices of cucumber. Seriously, on what planet does a chef see cucumber and fried egg on the same plate and yell, “Service!?”

Anyway, enough ranting, I’m hungry. Time for a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Now where’s the deep fat fryer…

I’m now working on a 30,000 word e-book about the 5 day, father/son walk Ben and I did on the Pennine Way: if you’d like to read a few sample chapters before publication, just use the contact form to let me know. In the meantime if you’d like a copy of the ‘laugh out loud’ Best Dad featuring 27 of my favourite columns from all the years I’ve been writing, it’s available here for 99p on your Kindle


  1. sarahmo3w says:

    All hotels and B&Bs need those ‘do it yourself’ toasters. Except that on the first go they come out a slightly darker shade of white, so you put them through again and they come out as charcoal. Scrap that idea.

    • I kind of like those old-fashioned ones where you pop the toast onto a treadmill. But you’re right, Sarah. First go, pale brown & lukewarm. Second go, burned. Then you finally crack it, make a perfect slice of toast, turn your back and someone’s nicked it. But confident children are bringing you tea and toast in bed every Sunday morning…

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