Indecent food

flagonforkA friend of mine is attending the London Book Fair and enjoying literary meetings and cherry blossom in the park. (No – I’m not green with envy… that’s only a bit of mould!) However, one of the things she is not enjoying is British food. Although, what exactly is wrong with eating chips in a bread roll or potatoes with pizza, I’ll never know!

Actually, it is a myth that all British cuisine is bad, but this story is not the one that explodes the myth. Quite the opposite. There were explosions – nasty ones, but not of the myth-busting variety.

Have I whetted your appetite?

A couple of years ago, when we were over in England visiting our families, we suffered at the hands of motorway stops and fifth-rate restaurants at tourist sites. Remember that we are hopeless cooks, so that anything below our standard really is low!

Anyway, towards the end of our stay, we went to M & S (an upmarket high street store called Marks & Spencers) to stock up on essentials like underwear and books for the kids. While we were there, we decided to have a bite to eat at their newly-renovated and very expensive in-store café. It was coffee and cake all round except for Sir Pe, who suddenly developed a craving for a scone with jam and clotted cream.


Traditionally, the scone is served warm and is light and fluffy inside with jam and cream that melts in the mouth and over your clothes. The one that Sir Pe took out of the chilling cabinet was cold and hard. In fact, I’m pretty sure that this was the scone David used to knock Goliath out with.

Sir Pe politely asked for a fresh scone. Preferably one that would allow him to keep his teeth in his mouth after eating it. The serving lady gave him another scone that was just as hard. He then asked her for a scone that had been baked that day.

“They are all baked right here on the premises.”

“OK. Can you warm this up please so that it is a little softer?”

“Sorry! We only have industrial ovens that can’t warm up food. Anyway, this is what scones are supposed to be like.”

comfort_cartoonThat’s when it happened: the stretching of patience as taut as the nerves of a terrified patient at the dentist; the twang of nerves unravelling like knicker elastic; the sound of tempers exploding.

“What do I have to do to get some decent food in this [swear word deleted] country? Can’t I even get a fresh scone?” he shouted. Loudly. So that even the several hundred old dears in the queue behind us could hear us without having to switch on their hearing aids.

There is nothing a store likes less than an irritated customer telling everyone what bad food it serves.

The manager emerged swiftly. Took away the offending scones. And brought back a freshly-baked warm one.

What’s the moral of this story? If you want some decent food in England, you’ll have to shout louder than everyone else!

30 thoughts on “Indecent food

  1. Pingback: Indecent food
  2. I once got a steak and kidney pie from a kiosk and a shandy (since I didn’t know what it was, but came in a friendly looking can and all I can say is “who the hell thought putting lemonade and beer together was a GOOD idea?”). Possibly the worst meal I’ve ever eaten in the UK. After that I stuck with fish and chips and beer on tap for lunch (Delish!) and Indian food for dinner (Bliss!).


  3. I live in the UK and love England but must admit I am amazed at what constitutes food over here. It can be difficult to get a decent, fresh, healthly meal unless you pay a litte more to visit an expensive restaurant or organic food store. Decent butchers and bakeries are pretty much extinct on most high streets and lots of families are content with frozen ready meals. This does not seem to be the case in other parts of Europe where fresh food is readily available in daily markets. I do not understand why things are particulary bad over here. I would not have expected that from M&S though!


  4. Dear Lady Fi,
    thank you for support and understanding! I am now back safe and sound in Sweden, drinking minimjölk and eating organic friut again.
    The funny thing is that I finally found an expensive Marks&Spencer food store in London, which hade the best and freshest vegetables, shrimps, salmon and cottage cheese I could dream of. So I simply stocked supplies from there and had my pick-nicks outside the book fair. Apparently Sir Pe’s outburst that time helped …


  5. He did the right thing. I won’t put up with poor quality food and will say so. Many British people don’t like a scene and therefore don’t mention that the food is ghastly and, ergo, ghastly food is served up again and again.


  6. I think Dumdad is right on the money there: the food in England is crap because not enough people complain about it! Of course, coming from a country where decent food is easy to find makes it easier to kick up a fuss 😉


  7. Please note that we have never returned to eat at this, my local M&S. Yes, we Brits shrunk right down to our socks at SirPe’s outburst….
    BUT Annemarie, please believe that high street shops are NOT dead. Indeed, in our small rural town, we have a fishmongers, greengrocers, THREE bakeries, two butchers, supermarket, 2 charity shops, 4 banks and, just along the High St area, four pubs. And more within a mile radius.


  8. OH! OH! OH! Can’t stop rolling over this one!

    First, the David & Goliath reference sent me over the edge. Then to listen to Sir Pe roaring off and your spot-ON descriptions of the stretching nerves ——you are SUCH a great writer!——well, this post made my day.

    And in the interest of Justice, his demand for decent food just made my heart cheer!

    I make a delicious cranberry and orange scone. Perhaps I better post it. Or send a dozen over. Course, he might be swearing at me by the time they got there – too stale and all. But if he gets too out of hand, you can always slay him with one! LOVED THIS!! LOVE YOU!!


  9. “That’s when it happened: the stretching of patience as taut as the nerves of a terrified patient at the dentist; the twang of nerves unravelling like knicker elastic; the sound of tempers exploding.”

    Thank-you, Lady Fi, for this beauty!


  10. We had fish and chips while we were in London last week….not so impressive, but we never did order scones with our afternoon tea! DARN IT!! Guess that cinches it… WE MUST GO BACK!


  11. Well, at least the picture looks delectable! Why is it that a person has to turn into a raving maniac to get what they should have gotten in the first place?!


  12. Was listening to a radio programme yesterday and they mentioned making scones using lemonade! Tried it this afternoon and they were the lighest, most delicious scones ever! Didn’t believe it when I heard it yesterday but I was proved wrong today!


  13. I used to make scones all the a previous life..for the girls as an afternoon old scones need to be warmed..
    Si Pe was right in speaking up, and I loved the description of the volcano about to errupt..serves them right..and how strange is it that a fresh scone appeared..they were just trying to pawn off old scones on unsuspecting customers..:(


  14. What a great post and having lived in Scotland for a few years you havent seen anything until you have seen the battered mars bar deep fried in oil. I loved this line, ‘I’m pretty sure that this was the scone David used to knock Goliath out with’. Made me laugh.

    I love scones, particularly pumpkin ones, and they when fresh are soft and sumptuous. Aren’t scones in the USA something completely different?


  15. I’d be thrilled to eat bad food just for the chance to visit England. It’s definitely up there on my “things to do” list. But I’ll be sure to remember this story if I ever do make it there for a visit!


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