Plenty of food for thought on offer across our great county
PUBLISHED: 14:01 21 September 2018
Food's on the menu for Keith Skipper this weekend and who can blame him with a feast of potential locations at which to indulge in some good old Norfolk tucker
A deadly dollop of Norfolk squit can take the steam out of any half-baked notions about takeaways from the Gastronomic End nurturing a nation apparently obsessed with food and all its fancy fripperies.
A local diner exacted tasty revenge for what he considered to be an average meal dressed up in pretentious twiddly bits to justify an extravagant price. He left a tip, hastily scribbled under the section marked The Chef’s Special … “So he myte be .. but his grub ent up ter much!”
Main beef on my moaning menu yet again is a seemingly insatiable appetite for calling people “food heroes”. I struggle to find any meaningful connection between substance taken into the body to maintain life and growth and someone admired for stirring deeds and noble qualities.
Okay, Gordon Ramsay might have been the first wholesome combination to pop out of the celebrity oven but Fanny Craddock, a sort of pushy queen of the kitchen well before Delia, could let herself down with second helpings of sarcasm dipped in scary looks.
I have tried to imagine “food heroes” in the guise of masked or marinated crusaders fighting off cantankerous cabbages, killer kale, lethal leeks obnoxious onions and spontaneously-combustible sprouts. Then I wander back to an English lesson at grammar school in 1956 destined to put me off garden centres for life.
The Day of the Triffids took on more menace than any exam room on a wet Monday by introducing tall perambulating plants capable of aggressive and seemingly intelligent behaviour but bent on world domination. I avoided any friends whose parents had a big greenhouse and kept out of our family vegetable patch just in case Dad was cloning an army of persecuting parsnips.
As usual, I found portions of enlightenment and solace through homely culture rather than any branch of horticulture. A gentle amble among favourite books and films could help you do the same. A fair sprinkling of imagination will spice up the exercise and leave you hungry for afters.
My healthy diet had to begin with Goodbye Mr Chips, starring Robert Doughnut, the epicurean Lord of the Onion Rings and Moby Duck. Here come the Colander Girls rehearsing for Salad Days closely pursued by Three Men in a Gravy Boat and James Stewart pitching for Baker of the Year in It’s A Wonderful Loaf.
Spaghetti Westerns must include Hingham High – a new school of thought – and anything set in East Clintwood starring Butch Casserole and the Sundance Squid. Tex Fritter could be ideal as a crusty old gunslinger in Bunfight at the OK Corral. Davy Croquette will have to wait for The Great Frontier Fry Up.
While there’s a suspicion too many cooks spill the broth, particularly over television schedules, I can’t help feeling a big culinary trick has been missed to put Norfolk perspective on an alternative offering for those suffering from judging indigestion.
The Great Brockdish Brake Off, hosted by Norwich-born entertainer Mr Pastry, suggests a freewheeling romp featuring non-celebrities on bikes with mixing bowls on the front, ingredients in a saddlebag on the crossbar along with icing in a pump and a bell to ring when an oven is required.
There are no winners or losers, just a giant picnic at every Norfolk stop along the way to a grand final feast at Burnham Overy. Other locations ought to include Baconsthorpe, Eaton, Eccles, Egmere, Great Melton, Oxwick and, by popular request, Pudding Norton.
For those needing only a snack, Mousehold and Wendlingdale cheeses will be available at various outlets, washed down with a free glass of Castle Riesling. Coypu Surprise may appear on the odd Broadland breakfast menu while Trunch Truffles and Hethersett Jellies are due for revivals elsewhere.
Of course, those of a certain vintage will remember wartime rationing and shortages after that. Families made a lot out of a little with home-made delights like giant apple dumplings, boiled in a cloth, bubble and squeak straight from the frying pan and all the bottled fruit you could eat.
“Waste not, want not” referred as much to time together as to household victuals.
Did not that period of austerity more deserve awards for genuine family sustenance than the current era of showbiz chefs and bloated television courses in how to be a couch potato?
Oh dear, I’m turning all serious again … just as something dings to remind me where the kitchen is.
SKIP’S ASIDE The nights are pulling in, it gets late earlier and there’s obvious demand for an escape route from too much banality television.
I warmly recommend my new project sponsored by Wicklewood mogul Daryl J. Sanferpicker III and supported with guided tours of locations and historical re-enactments from Mayhem Parva Women’s Institute.
Give a famous film a Norfolk coat of paint and bask in local pride with fresh ideas for a golden era. Here are a few examples to get you going:
Citizen Cane – Epic saga of a man with the fantastic idea of growing sugar on plantations at Lingwood and Limpenhoe and then processing it in a factory on the banks of the Yare at Cantley. He becomes a powerful newspaper tycoon instead when no-one will publish his adventures. His factory foreman is called Rosebud.
The Matlaske Falcon – Private eye Sam Shovel sizes up fresh clues in this novel treatment of the Dashell Hamment crime melodrama. An archaeological dig unearths a priceless statuette and unleashes a trail of havoc. The LA background is more Lower Aylsham than Los Angeles.
Caisterblanca – You must remember this … an affectionate salute to the changing face of seaside life as time goes by. Memorable final scene where an ancient fisherman casts his nets – and his soul – into an unknown future as he picks up a creature at the bottom of his boat. He smiles as the sun sets and whispers: “Here’s looking at you, squid!”
The Canary Has Landed – The one Jack Higgins forgot to write! This ripping yarn features enemy aliens from Suffolk infiltrating a Norfolk village in the hope of kidnapping Norwich City’s star striker just days before the FA Cup Final at Wembley. Rather silly plot as the Canaries were knocked out in round four.
Cley Noon – Classic confrontation between hard-boiled native and second-home stranger. The showdown over a saucer of winkles in a birdwatchers’ hide remains one of the most compelling in cinema history. Haunting musical score and plenty of romantic interest as locals plan big families in an effort to outnumber the incomers. Oscar favourite.