1.) Ground cinnamon:- I blame the Americans for the ubiquity of sweet foods now available on the market that contain this dusty brown powder that lingers on the tongue with its stale, domineering taste. Instantly recognisable it is synonymous with sickly icing on donuts or atop a cup of milk-laden coffee. This is not to suggest that a piece of cinnamon bark is amiss in a fragrant curry but please, let’s confine ground cinnamon to the dustbin of food history.
2.) Pomegranate:- It seems that you can move nowhere these days without health-istas and people who pretending to be healthy telling you that pomegranate is a superb and delicious foodstuff with a sweet, more-ish flavour. In my life I have yet to find a more vulgar looking fruit and one which has such a disagreeable taste. It has oft been cited as the ‘forbidden fruit’ which God warned Adam and Eve not to eat and no wonder, he probably realised that on this occasion ha had create something quite repulsive. The obsession that some restaurants have with scattering some of the token seeds over a Middle Eastern inspired salad or the way that mixologists ruin a perfectly good cocktail by adding its ruby red juices to a concoction is quite beyond me.
3.) Feta cheese:- I once went on a holiday to Greece and was dismayed to be given a feta tart, consisting of the said cheese and some shortcrust pastry; it was one of the most harrowing experiences in my culinary life, but to be polite to my host I had to eat the whole thing, after which I was gagging for water to combat the unpleasant combination of salt and sour that this product seems to impart on the palate. Great goats cheese in marvellous, but please, let’s leave this one well alone.
4.) Marzipan and royal icing:- The Great British Bake Off has seemingly given new life to this dry wallpaper paste that can be found lurking disconcertingly under a layer of rock hard, tooth-tingling royal icing to make for a very unpleasant cake-eating experience.
5.) Meat and fruit:- A combination as old as the hills but one which I abhor. The idea of stewed, super-sweet dried stone fruit and muttony lamb is barf inducing for me, probably a problem if I ever get faced with a badly made, indigestion inducing tagine at a dinner party in the future! Again, for me a good way to ruin a great joint of roasted pork is to smother it in apple compote or the uber-fashionable quince purée that seems to be so de rigeur at the moment! And don't get me started on the travesty that is the ham and pineapple pizza!
6.) Chestnuts:- I feel I am being a bit unfair on this one as my aunt makes the most wonderful chestnut and mushroom stuffing for turkey at Christmas time - in fact it's good all year around, even in sandwiches. But every time I see a chestnut I am transported back to two experiences:
- Marron Glacé at Christmas which, like most glaceed fruit must be a generational thing because I find them hideous to the n-th degree.
- I was once served the most delicious pheasant casserole on a French exchange - an Ardennes speciality - it would have been perfect had it not been for the dry, mealy chestnuts that seemed never-ending. Having forced the last down I was offered more, when, not to be rude (and as the rest had been so tasty) I said yes, I was greeted with no pheasant but another huge pile of chestnuts. Madame called them 'jewels of the earth', 'jewels of my arse' more like!
So there you have it, my bette noires of the food world, what are yours? I’d love to know, or perhaps you you take issue with some of my above choices, if so please do feel free to comment, but until next time...