Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Goes Nuts

    Reading the forward of a ostensibly normal cookery book, I was enraged by the following statement: 'we hope to bring you an imaginative variety of nourishing meals, none of which contain nuts'. What did that mean? That if I had a nut allergy I would plough ahead with their inclusion if a recipe told me to, like some suicidal zombie?
A few months ago, living it large on an Easyjet flight to Austria I asked the trolley person  if she had any dry roasted peanuts.  [I think at some point somewhere they were called trolley dollies, but on Easyjet you are more likely to get a trolley troll; but I digress.] Call me a damn crazy fool, but I kind of like their dirty old trouser smell, & given the choice of that or some styrofoam sandwich with a boarding pass filing , I'll go with the nuts.  It was like pressing the panic button in the Oval Office.
 'We NEVER sell. Peanuts. On Easyjet! They. KILL. People.' 
'But surely the people who they kill don't actually ask for them' By now I was spoiling for a ruck.  'Aren't you being a bit nutist against those people who can eat them?' 
'You could breath particles over them though!' She was shouting now. 'They could go into our air conditioning system and poison the atmosphere!'
'Yes! Really.' She took a breath and attempted to reinstate a bit of calm. 'Now, madam how about some potato chips, they're only £2 a bag.' 
'Sure,' I said. 'I have a fatal tuber intolerance, but find them delicious. Give me two.' 

I do realise that anaphylactic shock is on no one's wish list, but do nut-involving recipe's really have to be excised from an orthodox cookery book?
That's the nanny culture at its repressive maddest.Will there soon be a black market for Alpen? These days matron is everywhere

 In the not too distant future when the government puts CCTV inside our homes, I shall be forced into having a hard-hat wearing Health & Safety chappy in attendance for all my forays into the kitchen because the smoke alarm is the Pavlovian bell in our house: my little darlings know supper is ready whenever it goes off. 

Alerts and stipulations are everywhere, treating us like drooling morons.
'Danger! It is inadvisable to clamber to the top of this pylon!  
Warning! Do not feed your hair extensions between the teeth of the escalator!
Warning!  Do not submerge your head  in this Jumbo carton of Popcorn!  Danger! Licking the tarmac in the fast lane of the carriageway can damage the road surface!

I strongly believe that not only do children have a right to climb trees, they have the right to fall out of them and break their arms. Helicopter parents who fuss over children, don't make them safe, they make them fearful. Fear is contagious &  if something is obviously frightening a grown up, a child quite sensibly follows suit. You can contage children will all sorts of excessive fears that have no roots in any experience except your own, of dogs, of flying, of germs, of cashews. 
 As parents we have a duty to bite our tongues and let our children climb and explore, and we as consenting adults have a right to jump on and off buses & crack our heads open on the pavement when we screw up. Even if we are mortally allergic to nuts, we should be allowed the option to end it all that way.

I once interviewed Ranulph Fiennes [pictured right, or an impostor?] before he headed off for a solo attempt to the North Pole [the one where he got frostbite in the fingers of one hand & hacked off the offending numb black stubs in the privacy of his garden shed when he got home] He was describing how he was going to haul four months of supplies over the icy Arctic rubblescape, [not unlike dragging a wheelie suitcase along the top of the Rockies, but colder]. As an aside, told me he had once paid £4,000 at auction for one of Captain Scott's biscuits. I was impressed. 
[[pictured left, Capt. Scott, or an impostor?] 
I like to imagine him treating himself to one really expensive polar dinner - but I have this awful dread that as he sat down under the midnight sun and prepared to take a bite, it would be knocked form his hands by some frantic busybody ex-Easyjet employee shrieking, 'Good God, man, that's not just century old hard tack - that thing contains traces of almond! There's a woman in Nuuk who could die if you cough!'
[pictured, Nuuk, capital of Getting Greener All The Time Land]

The moral of this tale is never ever be tempted to read the forward of your cookery book.