Wednesday, 25 September 2013

No Mint Juleps required... Dining at the Colonel's table

We all have our own, specific guilty pleasures in life. Mine include a large mug of Nescafe Gold Blend and such horrors from the vault as the collected works of Hale & Pace, ‘Invisible Touch’ by Genesis, Ed McBain cop thrillers and the 1989 film Tango and Cash; but is in the realm of food that it seems the worst and scurrilous culprits lie.

I was flicking through another deliciously guilty secret, the Mail Online, this evening when I spotted a malicious, gleefully reported story about St Micheal’s cookbook doyenne, the bottled chutney making, baking legend Mary Berry and the audacity that she displayed in purchasing a pre-made brownie tray-bake from her local supermarket. ‘Hold the front page someone! She doesn’t bake all the time!’ I can hear the lifestyle editor splutter as the news comes across the wire from the Buckinghamshire office. If anything this absurd story rather inspired me to write this post. I thought it was a somewhat harsh criticism of Mary Berry, at least she has never had the sanctimony to look down on those purchasing food for convenience (unlike wot I ‘ave!... read my article on the scourge of ready-made stock here). 

‘Good grief...’ one might say, echoing that famous catch-phrase of Charlie Brown - haven’t we all got a little too snobby about our food? Are we not allowed to every so often indulge in something that we know to be absolutely devoid of nutritional value yet gives us a momentary fix of pleasure? Goodness knows we need things like that in the scary landscape of the modern world. Having raised both barrels at the ‘Brown Bread Brigade’ before over the subject of the might white sliced I am rather minded to do so again, this time to rub some salt in the wounds I previously inflicted focusing on a fantastic trip I took the other night to my favourite outlet of forbidden food, Kentucky Fried Chicken. 

Let me set the scene...

It was Saturday afternoon. 16:00. The sky was gun-metal grey and the streets of Fulham were alive with  the thronging masses of Chelsea fans on their way to the terraces. In the air was a sense of excitement for an afternoon of sport. I was off to the pub to meet two stalwart friends for a bit of a chinwag over a few frothing ales. ‘Mine’s a Ghost Ship’ I said to the girl behind the bar as nonchalantly as possible. Surveying the surrounding punters it was a rather mild collection of civilised supporters, tourists and locals. This was the Sporting Pageboy, a rather sober establishment full of good ales and good times. One could imagine chasing with a nip of Laphroaig rather than a bourbon or in the case of a bar brawl a jar of japanese rice crackers or smoked almonds being used instead of a pool cue. Of course the match was on but this was a genteel crowd, far removed from the sordid fleshpots and drunken denizens of Fulham Broadway.

Fellows were well met, the drink flowed. Probably a bit too much in my case. I waxed lyrical, I made wild statements, outlandish claims and self-important declarations, easily blamed at the time, in my mind, on a rogue rusty pint. Friends departed off into the night on the way to their own adventure, I for my part had an appointment to make at 81-83 The Broadway, Wimbledon. 

Rolling out of the main station I walked down a busy thoroughfare full of sound and fury. Cheap, lager fuelled caterwauling and shouts went up from those heading to the seedy dives that populated this main drag adding to the sense that I was going somewhere the foodies and fashionistas (so fond of Brixton based Wishbone) would give a second glance. After short time, I was greeted by the smiling, jovial countenance of a man who dealt in southern friend chicken. It was the anemic portrait of Colonel Sanders himself. 

The hopes and dreams of my journey between the pub and KFC had culminated in this moment, to hell with the chicken snobs, to hell with the health police and bring it on! It was an easy choice, the brand new ‘Mighty Bucket for One’ seemed to be calling to me like some vile - but momentarily seductive - temptress.Two wings, two breast fillets and two pieces of original recipe chicken it was like a mini-banquet, a showcase of the emporium’s wares - it was an easy sell. One the side? Coke and fries... need I say more on these distractions? 

Let’s park them and turn to the chicken. I could not tell you the provenance, the breed and such like, I just knew at the time as I tore into crisp, savoury and scalding hot bits of chicken that I was experiencing a very fleeting and slightly drunken moment of culinary glory - made even more delicious by the fact that I knew I’d feel a little cheap and sordid following its consumption. The wings went down quickly, a little chili heat lingering on the tongue. Next the breast fillets, a yielding palette for crispy skin which baptises the tongue with scalding heat. Finally the main attraction, the climax, the original recipe pieces packed full of that special, secret recipe of 12 herbs and spices... it tasted so good at the time.

If it had been up to me, a good bottle of chilled Champagne or a bourbon on the rocks would have been nice. I think hell will freeze over before the Colonel countenances such laxity of abstinence in his establishments, although I’ve heard tell he was partial to a Mint Julep. 

Like so many fleeting pleasures this one was short-lived, it felt that as soon as I had started it was over and was facing a sobering was home. The effects of the alcohol wearing off and with a belly full of battered chicken I was feeling decidedly sorry for myself as I waddled home, my burden sloshing around in my stomach all the while... but here’s the thing, I’d do it again as, you know what, I like Kentucky Fried Chicken!’ 

After such a shock announcement, I am sure many of my foodie followers will be deserting in droves. I remain unrepentant and like KFC I will keep enjoying Hale & Pace, Genesis, Kurt Russell films and trashy cop thrillers. I hope that Mary Berry will take a leaf out of my book and continue to buy her brownie tray-bake, surely if she likes it that’s all that matters! 

1 comment:

  1. Fish finger sandwich, Mother's Pride sliced, bottled tartare sauce. That is all I have to say about that.