It’s still a balmy 18 degrees in east Kent yet we’re being bombarded with images relating to cosy nights in with a hearty stew and a roaring log fire. And you’ll hardly have failed to notice all the Christmas paraphernalia that’s now creeping relentlessly onto supermarket shelves.
I know I’m a bit of an old humbug, but really. My son’s still going to school in shorts so my poor old brain can’t cope with all these conflicting messages. But I digress. It really is the time for food producers and sellers to cash in. For many, the ten-week run up to Christmas is when the majority of profits are made. A couple of weeks ago I worked at Eurofair with the Kent Food and Drink Festival in Canterbury. In spite of the incredibly hot weather it was really satisfying to see so many genuinely talented producers out promoting their wares. For them it’s all about the taste. But that’s not the case for everyone who buys or sells food.
This week alone is British Egg Week, Chocolate Week and National Curry Week (don’t try them all at once!). My point is this – because consumers are struggling to balance the food budget, producers and sellers are having to work ever harder to secure a purchase. So you can see why every type of food now seems to have a “week”. Let’s look at chocolate. Long gone are the days when we splurged just at Christmas and Easter.
We’re now covered in the stuff – chocolate dinners, chocolate shops, chocolate toys and there are even TV programmes devoted entirely to the little bean. But the common theme throughout is how the product looks – who can do the most outrageous thing with chocolate. Why can’t I just enjoy a humble bar of Dairy Milk in peace?
It’s the same with cakes. Thankfully the cupcake craze seems to have passed. Instead we have macaroon mania. Brightly coloured and oddly flavoured – whatever happened to taste? I was at a 50th wedding anniversary bash at the weekend. Centre stage (apart from the golden couple, of course) was a magnificent cake. It looked glorious. But how did it taste with my after-dinner coffee? In two words – dry and bland. Maybe it’s the Katie Price effect – obsessed about how she looks but not much else.
Of course I’m generalising. My recent experience in Canterbury reassured me that there’s still very much a place for simple but tasty food that’s best enjoyed shared.
Katie Price – tasteless. Jo, the winner of the Great British Bake-Off – scrummy.