Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Real Thing

And I don't mean Coca Cola though I am sure  that for Coke afficionados the taste is real enough. No this blog post title is concerned with the failure of many modern day foods to live up to the memories of taste of foods of the same name  say 40 years ago. I appreciate that the sharpness of mankind's taste buds  fade  with our age. Nonetheless there is a deterioration in the taste of many foods which seems unrelated to the age of the taster.

Take grapes for example.  I am sure that  greengrocer bought grapes wrapped in brown paper bags in the 1970s had more interesting taste than supermarket bought grapes encased in plastic trays do today. I was reminded of the loss of  some delicious grape taste upon buying by chance recently some French Muscat grapes from an upmarket food shop in Wimbledon Village. As it happens  the grapes were not expensive but they were delicious. The French  probably take the delicious taste of some of their grapes for granted living as many do near to the vineyards but most grapes sold in UK supermarkets now taste little better than the plastic they are usually encased in.

Then there are fish and chips. The idea of Fish and Chips is usually quite appealing and  with the Bishops of England and Wales enjoining the faithful in the pews to abstain from eating meat on Fridays - after a c.40 year gap -  mrs maytrees and I recently  supped from the fare provided by a local chippie. The meal fell well below expectations. I appreciate that fish stocks are precious and that there are other environmental issues not least those arising from the EU common fish policies but the quality of the fish was not I think the problem but rather the key disappointments in taste were those of the chips and batter. Potato chips these days may  be mass produced and  pre-processed before their final frying but whatever the reason their taste is hardly attractive. The ingredients used for the fish batter and possibly the use of vegetable oil rather than dripping for frying may render the dish more healthy but alas less tasty.

Sausages  are another bete noir. At boarding school when aged about 10 one of the great culinary treats (and there were not many) was that of  the winning team receiving chipolata sausages for tea. Being very rarely in the winning team, the 1960s  chipolata  sausage taste  is  imprinted in my memory. Today's chipolata sausage taste is mere pastiche by comparison.

On the other hand there are some tastes in C21 which are not bettered by the taste of similar products in the 1960s or 1970s. Coffee ranks high up on this list. One has to be lucky at supermarkets but the Taylors Columbia High Andes coffee is both delicious and not too dear. The Seattle Coffee House in Wimbledon used to serve delicious coffee but alas was taken over by the ubiquitous Starbucks a few years back. Starbucks coffee is not bad but is a little pricey and frothy for my taste.

Australian wine is another great taste now whereas years back its taste on average  was nowhere near as good as  that of average priced wines from France. Australia's Yarra Yerring though not cheap  ranks among my favourite wine tastes  of all time.

The convenience of a one stop supermarket shop has by and large come with a price tag which hits the palate hardest  when compared with the old style shopping at the butcher baker greengrocer baker etc.

2 comments:

  1. I thought that was a fair and balanced commentary, Jerry. You can still get good fish and chips, you know. I had my best meal of F&C ever a couple of years ago down in a pub at Start Point, near Kingsbridge in Devon.
    As to sausages: my recollection at Beaumont is that you got a decent meal after a match against another school win or lose. Perhaps budgets had tightened by the time you got there or perhaps you were referring to your prep school?

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  2. Greetings Barnaby TX for your comment.

    The fare at Beaumont was not too bad despite the ravioli riot that characterised one supper during which ravioli was served for the 3rd consecutive time. Some masters (Dave Allen a popular chemistry master comes to mind) escaped from the refectory through the windows. Shame as I liked the ravioli.

    No the chipolata memories are from the dreaded prep school (Ladycross) now closed.

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