Food for the gods at the Olympics

I am right I think? The Olympics are being held in London? Yes?

I think London is part of Great Britain and the UK and all that.

So what should they be eating there?

Well, I would like to be inclusive and allow Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to join in.

Oh wait. I should say, this post is about boring old plain food and no fancy drizzles of balsamic vinegar. (Although you can have condiments of choice, I am merely looking at raw ingredients suggestive of British food).

For a few starters.

Now, how about some lovely Helford Oysters? Morecambe Bay buttered shrimps? Scottish smoked salmon, from Loch Fyne perhaps? Smoked trout?

None of that is vegetarian, but for once, this isn’t a vegetarian post, this is about traditional British food that actually demonstrates we do have some good basic food rather than some arsey poncey stuff produced by an over-enthusiastic chef, where you have half a dozen ingredients that combine to make a sublime infusion of flavours that would all sit equally well on their own.

[I can write the vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free menu later]

To continue with the rather fishy starters, salmon mayonnaise perhaps? Smoked mackerel? Kipper paté? One of our nearby stallholders on the market used to make a superb kipper paté. Delicious. Fresh crab? of course. Not those disgusting crab sticks that bear no resemblance to crab. If you want something deep fried, how about whitebait?

This is summer and as we don’t do gazpacho or vichysoisse as a national dish, let’s move quickly onto another course and avoid soup.

Perhaps a little Dover sole, halibut, trout, – or even haddock and chips. [Because if you buy fish and chips at the Olympics you don’t have to use McDonalds – but if you want chips on their own – gotta go to MDs – oh dear politics rears its ugly head. For anyone who doesn’t know, MDs was given the monopoly on the sale of chips on their own at the Olympics].

British chips, I might point out, are not french fries. They are thick and full of yummy potato, so I see no reason why Mcdonalds was given such a stranglehold on the Olympic food market. Oh yes, I do. They sell healthy food to people don’t they? * SIGH * Oh, or is it because they are sponsors? Yes, that may well be it. Just like Coca Cola and Cadburys. Oh. So. Healthy.

Shall we move on to eating dead animals meat? Prime Scottish beef, Welsh lamb, and pigs from I’m not quite sure where, Tamworth maybe. You could eat all those cold. Lincolnshire and Cumberland sausages, equally delicious if that’s your choice of food. How about liver (and bacon) and onions?

Tiny little Yorkshire puddings, or better still, small pieces from a large square tin, rather like when you buy pizza in Italy. Maybe with currants in, always one of my faves. You could add blackberries, but maybe a bit early for blacks in the UK’s current wonderful summer weather.

Pancakes. NO! not American pancakes, I mean pancakes using the same batter as Yks pudding batter. Thin, and like crepes and served savoury or sweet.

Vegetables – it’s summer – peas, broad beans, new potatoes, and salads – lettuces, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, all salad greens, spring onions, whatever else is available.

Cheeses: well, loads. Goats cheeses, crumbly Cheshire, Lancashire, Wensleydale, Caerphilly from Wales, harder and stronger Cheddar, blue Stilton, or the lesser known blue Cheshire. British cheeses – there are loads, and some are from individual dairy farms, and not part of nasty conglomerates. Some are vegetarian, some are organic, some are small businesses trying to keep going.

I’m not up on fruit in the UK these days so I’ll leave that one but as there are strawberries and cream at Wimbledon there should be something kicking around. Maybe some lovely Scottish rasps perhaps?

Desserts? What’s wrong with old fashioned ones? Fruit cake, lovely Dundee cake with delicious almonds on top (used to like to pick those off), tiny fairy cakes, trifle, boring old blancmange and, I’ve now run out of ideas as I just don’t like dessert.

I’ve not even got into recipes, these are just basic raw ingredients which quite frankly, seem good enough to me.

So why did the BBC with its Great British Menu programme, end up with a winning meal that included foie gras from France and mascarpone from Italy?

Foie gras is banned from production in the UK although can be imported. Usual loopholes apply.

A truly British tradition that indeed. Force feeding ducks and geese in France to suit greedy people. Not banned in France and we are allowed to import it. What a mockery.

‘A little foie gras my dear?’

‘Oh thank you so much. I love to eat diseased goose liver. It’s so chic and so British.’

Force-feeding of birds is practiced mostly on geese or male Moulard ducks, a Muscovy/Pekin hybrid. Preparation for gavage usually begins 4–5 months before slaughter.
For geese, after an initial free-range period and treatment to assist in esophagus dilation (eating grass, for example), the force-feeding commences.
Gavage is performed 2–4 times a day for 2–5 weeks, depending on the size of the fowl, using a funnel attached to a slim metal or plastic feeding tube inserted into the bird’s throat to deposit the food into the bird’s crop (the storage area in the esophagus).
A grain mash, usually maize mixed with fats and vitamin supplements, is the feed of choice. Waterfowl are suited to the tube method due to a non-existent gag reflex and extremely flexible esophagi, unlike other fowl such as chickens.
These migratory waterfowl are also said to be ideal for gavage because of their natural ability to gain large amounts of weight in short periods of time before cold seasons. For this reason, gavage is usually a “finishing” stage before the bird is set for slaughter, for if left to its own devices after finishing, the bird will quickly return to its normal weight.
The result of this practice is a severely enlarged and fatty liver which results in the liver disease hepatic lipidosis. The liver may swell up to 12 times its normal size (up to three pounds). While the livers are the coveted portions of these birds, the fatty flesh of geese and ducks (traditionally used to make confit) as well as their feathers do also find a market.


Well, it’s good to know they make money out of the rest of the tortured geese and ducks isn’t it?

And from The Grauniad

No less a body than the EU’s Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare concluded after a thorough investigation in 1998 (pdf) that “force feeding, as currently practised, is detrimental to the welfare of the birds”. Ducks and geese, the study noted, generally waddle over to the person who feeds them; birds undergoing gavage will try to avoid their force-feeder. Even when they are so bloated they can no longer walk, or from within the straitjacket cages involved in industrial production, they will try to turn their heads from the pipe.

Seriously, while I abhor such an obnoxious and horrific practice, as I said, this post isn’t about animals for once. I would probably have eaten foie gras in my carnivorous days.

There is enough good food in Britain without resorting to something that is banned from production and has to be imported from France. And surely there is enough cheese kicking around in the UK without having to resort to mascarpone for the desert? No doubt it is about being inclusive and European. I doubt any other country cooking up Great MyCountry Menus would use a load of British ingredients.

Final Result of the Great British Menu for the Olympics
Starter: Quails in the Wood

Fish Course: Cornish mackerel with oysters, mussels, winkles & samphire 

Main Course: Slow poached chicken, sweetcorn egg, spinach with bacon and peas 

Dessert: Poached pears, atsina cress snow, sweet cheese ice cream and rosehip syrup

Courtesy of wiki link here, if you want to check out the complex recipes.

And, as a side point, given that we have all pigged out, or rather goosed/ducked out on our quails with chicken livers and foie gras, the main course also has chicken liver parfait. Great menu planning that one. I have no idea what sweetcorn egg is, but apparently it is important to use a vegetarian setting agent for the sweetcorn jelly. Just, really?? Why??

The Olympics would be better off with curry meals, at least they are more British.

Having ridiculed these crazy menus (the main course had 53 instructions to it – NO – I did not read through them) my more serious point is about sponsorship of the Olympics.

Somewhat like my last post, the fact that junk food companies are right in there and in the case of McDonalds, monopolising the sale of chips, is not just worrying, it is downright disgraceful.

Sport – health – junk food. Great mixed messages there. Money, as ever, buys everything.

An excellent article here from the BBC website. Somewhat better than their support of foie gras I have to say.

The article also includes comments from the leading sponsors and the International Olympics Committee. Can people not read through the PR speak?

But if you can’t be bothered to click, here are a few key quotes:

Coca-Cola will deliver a variety and choice, and provide easy-to-understand information about their products so consumers can decide what is most appropriate for them. In fact, they will offer the widest range of drinks they have ever offered at an Olympic Games, including sparkling and still, low- and no-calorie choices, juices, smoothies and water.

Yeah, so everyone will avoid that nasty sugary coke that takes the muck off coins, yes? And choose water?

McDonald’s will offer their most extensive menu at an Olympic Games in their Olympic venue restaurants, and for the first time, will serve Happy Meals which will include fruit, vegetable and dairy options.

So we all visit MDs with the idea of getting a vegetable and fruit meal? I don’t think so. Somehow.

The scale of obesity and diet-related disease around the world is alarming. According to the United Nations, diet-related diseases such heart disease, diabetes and cancer pose the greatest global threat to our health; contributing to a staggering 35 million deaths per year, dwarfing the six to eight million smoking-related deaths each year.

I’m surprised at that. I may whinge on about diet but I didn’t realise it was such a huge problem. I think I shall join the fascist diet police.

In Britain, one in three children are either overweight or obese by the age of nine, with six out of 10 adults in the same category.
Without effective intervention this figure could affect 90% of the UK population by 2050 and cost the NHS and the tax payer £45bn a year.

Oh dear. They are clearly not the Ethiopian/BanglaDeshi roughseas model are they? A third of children obese by nine????? Must look up my old school photo from junior school – where I doubt anyone was obese.

What’s effective intervention when it’s at home? Banning McDonalds? Coca Cola? Processed foods? Imagine the black market…..

According to obesity researcher and author Zoe Harcombe sugar is the only substance that humans regularly ingest that has no nutritional value whatsoever:
“[It has] no essential fats, no proteins, no vitamins, no minerals. It is unique in that respect,” she says.
A little is not a problem, but a lot kills, slowly. And since it is added to nearly all processed food, it is extremely difficult to avoid.

Now that is interesting, because I have read from other ‘experts’ that sugar is essential because of the energy-giving properties and all the rest of the crap. We all get sugar from natural, ie fresh, food anyway. Why add extra? I have to say, I have never, but never in my life, bought sugar as a household good. As far as I can see, it rots your teeth and makes you fat. And it’s not difficult to avoid if you avoid processed food.

So that’s simple isn’t it? The world’s problems can be solved so easily. Don’t eat sugar. Don’t invade other countries. Mind your own business. Look after and invest in your local community/country. Don’t believe what you are told by your government and big business. Don’t be greedy. Ambitious and aspirational yes, but greedy no, whether that’s food or consumerism. And don’t go to McDonalds – about whom I could write much more.

Last word goes to Duncan Goodhew, former British Olympic swimming gold medallist:

when he was training for the Moscow Olympics in 1980 he avoided all processed foods and was aware even back then that sugary surges were bad for the body and would impair his performance.

Psst. Want to buy a McDonalds banned burger and a genuine sugar-laced coke?

About roughseasinthemed

I write about my life as an English person living in Spain and Gibraltar, on Roughseas, subjects range from politics and current developments in Gib to book reviews, cooking and getting on with life. My views and thoughts on a variety of topics - depending on my mood of the day - can be found over on Clouds. A few pix are over on Everypic - although it is not a photoblog. And of course my dog had his own blog, but most of you knew that anyway. Pippadogblog etc
This entry was posted in animal rights, consumerism, health, politics, vegetarian and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Food for the gods at the Olympics

  1. EllaDee says:

    Love this post… and the whole time I was reading it had a Hairy Bikers’ accent, as they are what I associate with native British food, and it’s only thanks to them I could recognise the contents of the Final Result of the Great British Menu for the Olympics. Sponorship is just B.S. Alcohol, cigarettes and junk food advertising is constrained in many countries yet there’s a loophole for sponsorship?


    • Thanks ED. The trouble is I don’t have a TV so I am so unaware of all this! And even if I did have I wouldn’t be watching those sort of programmes. Hmm, or maybe I would. No, I doubt it. News and maybe a few documentaries. I think that menu is stupid and it annoys me that people think it is a) clever and b) entertaining to cook up the most bizarre and complex combinations of food when simple food is just as good. If you like seafood, what’s to beat half a dozen oysters with lemon juice? Have to say I ate those quite often at the Rex Hotel (is it still there?) in King’s Cross. But messing around with food just for the sake of it when people can’t even get enough rice to eat in some countries really gets up my nose.
      I think it is appalling that McDonalds has just walked in, thrown money at the Olympics Committee and gets to dictate the terms and conditions (ie the chip sales), build the biggest McDonalds in the world, and dominate British Olympics. And Coca Cola too. At least Cadburys is British (and also vile chocolate in my opinion). Going back to your previous comment about education and awareness, how are you going to get anywhere if those are the big players at the Olympics? It doesn’t matter that they are going to be offering healthy options – you don’t associate sparkling Buxton (British) mineral water with Coca Cola or fresh fruit salad with McDonalds. They should ban the word sponsorship – it is just window dressing for advertising. /rant


  2. Football is scheduled for Scotland and Wales but it seems that they can’t sell the tickets. Official food of the Olympics is McDonalds of course!


  3. bluonthemove says:

    I know people will disagree with me, but I think its wrong that corporations that sell unhealthy products should be allowed to be involved with sponsoring the Olympics. What impression does it give to kids to see their logos plastered all over the place. We’ve realised that tobacco and I believe alcohol sponsorship has no place in sport, so why McD and Coca Cola.

    I must however correct one point. McD’s were not given the sole sales rights for chips, except when they are sold with fish and chips, they parted with a huge amount of gold for the pleasure. Such is the enforcement of these purchased rights, the London Borough of Merton cannot mention the phrase “London 2012” or the word “olympics” in any printed materials it produces for residents, attempting to inform them of the ensuing chaos relating to the olympic tennis taking place within the borough.

    They were told to use these copyrighted terms, they’d have to become a sponsor of the olympics.


  4. bluonthemove says:

    line 2, 2nd para, sold with fish ….. can you please edit.
    last line para 1, why not wny



    • Not sure if I have got the fish and chips amend right, let me know. I may have got it the wrong way round in my amend. I thought they were the only ones allowed to sell chips on their own.


  5. Vicky says:

    Very interesting reading.
    Yes, we have plenty of home grown/fed edible stuff without shipping it in from abroad.
    I’m with you with the fish & chips 😉


  6. Pingback: This Week, I’ve Been Mostly Eating… | Priceless Paintings from W7

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