Tag Archives: sweets

Taste the Difference

The church I attended throughout my childhood hosted various extra-curricular events. The best were youth nights where we dressed like WAGs, stuffed our faces with luminous sweets and hummed along nonchalantly to Oasis as we played pool. Less enticing were so-called hunger lunches, which befuddle me to this day.

For the non-Methodists among you, allow me to explain the concept of a hunger lunch. You (or, more accurately, your mum) makes a designated dish and pudding, usually shepherd’s pie followed by apple crumble. Everybody else cooks the same two dishes. After the morning service, the whole congregation files into the church hall and sits at fold-out tables to receive this offering.

So far, so innocuous: you’re going to be fed through the kindness of others rather than go hungry. We say grace – for what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful. But instead of feeling thankful I could never help but feel anything other than tense as, table by table, we stood in line at the serving hatch and participated in a nail-biting game of Russian roulette as we tried to gauge which – or whose – shepherd’s pie was likely to end up on our plate.

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The last supper of a legend

I had a contemplative Sunday yesterday, because until I opened The Observer I didn’t know that Egon Ronay had died. When I learned that, it certainly brought back memories.

The first time I saw Egon Ronay in action was when I was about eight years old. It was a Sunday afternoon at my grandparents’ house, the telly was on, and my brother and I were glued to it while the adults slumped on the sofas making small talk.

I can’t remember what we were watching. It could have been a holiday show. However, it’s more than likely to have been Masterchef, which was staple Sunday afternoon viewing at that time. Masterchef also happened to be one of our favourite comedy programmes, firstly for its hilarious opening sequence of an egg being cracked in slow motion into a bowl of flour (which we liked to record on VCR and rewind…), secondly for Lloyd Grossman’s double whammy of silly name and sillier accent, and thirdly for the way the judges admired the painstakingly poised food for a brief moment before thoroughly demolishing it, eating one spoonful, and leaving it behind, razed to the ground. The audacity.

It’s not important how or why Egon Ronay had a slot on whichever show it was: what caught my attention was his job title. (His name too, in all honesty. But mostly his job title.) At that age, I was constantly being asked what I wanted to do when I grew up. Up until then I’d answered firmly that I wanted to be a waitress, because I loved the black dress and frilly pinny I’d seen on the French serveuses in ‘Allo allo. I hadn’t thought beyond that, except for the fact that I also wanted to read Enid Blyton at university.

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