Determined readers of my blog will know that, as part of my ongoing struggle against healthist zealots, I have not only carried on smoking and drinking, but I have been trying to eat as unhealthily as possible as well.

Over the past year or two I have been rediscovering the delights of the traditional English breakfast of my childhood, only served up not as breakfast, but as lunch. Rashers of streaky bacon, eggs, and tomatoes, all fried in lard. An essential ingredient is black pudding, which is, as far as I can see, made from congealed blood laced with lethal gobbets of fat. Can’t be healthy, that. So in it goes. And lest any of the precious killer fat be lost, I ensure that the final ingredient is a doorstep of white bread to soak it all up from the frying pan, sealing in the lethal fluids by frying both sides of the bread. All that, and a liberal topping of baked beans, of course. The whole thing must then be wolfed down in 5 minutes flat, if necessary unclogging the blocked esophagus with copious draughts of hot, sweet tea.

After that, I can collapse comatose back into my chair with the satisfaction of knowing that I’ve probably knocked a year or two off my life in a single sitting. Should any doubts about this intrude, it’s always possible to toast another couple of slices of white bread, coat them with full fat butter, and ladle on a thick topping of marmalade.

In between meals (and of course us freedom fighters absolutely must eat between meals) I will liberally eat crisps or jam doughnuts or chocolate biscuits. Well, somebody has to.

One recent discovery of mine has been Belgian chocolate cake. This is a species of chocolate cake into which whole lumps of chocolate have been embedded. It’s quite obviously lethal. Most people would gradually cut it up into itsy-bitsy slices, and take a week or two to eat the whole thing. I just strip off the plastic cover, saw the thing into quarters, and eat them one after the other in situ.

Another discovery has been Fray Bentos steak and kidney pies. These have the virtue of coming in tins. And anything tinned is, as everybody knows, guaranteed to cause heart attacks or cancer, and perhaps even both. I discovered these around about the time of the death of Keith Floyd, who passed away asleep on a sofa shortly after eating a gourmet lunch. The famed chef and bon viveur had a penchant for these pies, it seems. I wasn’t sure what Keith would have eaten with them, but you can’t go far wrong with buttered mashed potato and baked beans. Whenever I cook these pies, the flaky pastry on the top balloons up to form something that looks a bit like a chef’s hat. I’m not sure if they’re supposed to do that. But perhaps that was what Keith liked about them. Being a chef himself.

But the full English breakfast takes time to prepare. And the steak and kidney pie needs half and hour in the oven (three quarters of an hour to produce the full chef’s hat). I don’t often have the patience. Particularly if it’s half time in a World Cup football match, and there’s only a quarter of an hour in which to cook something. For that eventuality it has to be quick-cook fusilli, boiled while I fry up some onions, mushrooms, garlic, diced pork or bacon, tomatoes, herbs, and hot red chili in a single frying pan.

And that’s what I cooked up today at half time between Argentina and Greece, scoffing it in minutes as the second half started, but managing to recover from the subsequent heart-thumping, mouth-searing, chili-induced coma in time to catch the two late Argentine goals. “Venceremos!” as we rebels say.

So imagine the shock and dismay that I felt when, shortly afterwards, I read this over at DP’s.

Now, I don’t understand this. We are consistently told that healthy, non-processed food is the cheapest option.

In fact, it is demonstrably true. If one really cares about healthy food, pasta, tomatoes, garlic and mixed herbs, for example, will make a family meal for buttons. If you want meat, even enough of the leanest pork for four will only set you back around £3.

I could feel myself blushing with shame as I read this. Had I just unwittingly eaten something healthy? The ignominy! But nope, pasta, tomatoes, garlic, mixed herbs, and lean pork, are all irretrievably healthy, it seems. I groped around desperately for some redeeming feature. I had fried it, after all. In lard. With chili.

Chili! That wasn’t mentioned as being healthy! A quick internet search revealed:

Some test-tube and animal studies indicate that chili pepper consumption may be linked to stomach cancer.

Thank God for that! In addition:

Any spicy food, especially foods containing chili peppers, may cause reflux, indigestion and/or heartburn

Cancer and heartburn! So that’s what I experience, as I break out in a sweat, and my heart pounds, and my mouth burns, and I gradually lose consciousness.

Nothing to worry about then, should any of my fellow guerrillas come and ask me, “What’s this about you eating healthy food, eh, Francisco?”

Because I can just reply, as I pull on a cigar, “No problema, muchachos. I fried it in lard. With chili.” And continue cleaning my kalashnikov, without even bothering to look up. And they will nod and smile with relief, their doubts quelled.

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13 Responses to Ignominy

  1. fatbigot says:

    The problem is that it is really difficult to eat unhealthily if you cook for yourself. Your fry-up has starch (for regularity), protein (for oomph), vitamins (for not getting too spotty) and oodles of delicious flavour. Were you to omit all vegetative matter it would be unhealthy, but then it wouldn’t seem like a proper meal to you, so it won’t happen.
    Fray Bentos tinned pies are wonderful. Take one by itself and it won’t do you any favours but your buttery mash and baked beans make it a balanced meal.
    OK, so there’s more than the recommended amount of fat – so what? It might cause accelerated arterial clogging in a few people – so what? The other side of the equation is that those who eat it take enormous contentment from eating for pleasure as well as for nutrition and I’d value that personally experienced pleasure above any number of (invented) recommendations that might get you an extra year of misery in the Tofu lounge of the Twilight Happy Home.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Just Feel Bad
    I find that it really doesn’t matter what you eat, Frank, so long as you feel bad about it.
    If you eat something delicious, you are required to feel bad about it afterward.
    In fact, if you enjoy anything at all, please make sure that you guilty.
    It’s very selfish to enjoy things so much. Whenever you enjoy something, remember that you’re hurting someone else. Whenever you dislike something, however, you’re doing a good deed.
    It’s a good formula to live by, really. Turn off all of the lights and heating in your house and starve for a day. Do this as often as you can.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Close call there Frank, you can’t be too careful. Have you considered the possibilities inherent in pot noodles on the side to compensate?
    While we should always remember Mark Twains’ advice not to read health books, ‘As you might die of a misprint’, professor Johan Koeslags’ paper on junk food is a gem, as well as many articles by SIRC in Oxford.
    Their building has a wonderful Russian proverb above the entrance – ‘If you don’t smoke and you don’t drink, you will die healthy.’

  4. Anonymous says:

    Given I am unable to utilise that Evil Thing, red meat, I find liberal applications of (a) mayonnaise, (b) salad cream and (c) cheese (perm any two from three) keep me immune from visits from the Banditos Who Shun Tofu. That, and my abiding love for anything containing chocolate.
    Have you considered replacing your baked beans with spaghetti hoops? The former has fibre and protein. The latter are surely comprised of substances manufactured in a lab.
    PT Barnum

  5. Anonymous says:

    How’s your blood pressure?…

  6. Anonymous says:

    I was watching a film of the incredible TSR2 on Counting cats and now you’re reminding me of Fray Bentos pies, which I still eat from time to time. They are magnificent. I can’t remember if they were developed before or after Vesta ready meals (for the younger readers – a bit like a pot noodle, but infinitely better). For pudding? Instant Whip, which seems to now go unremembered; unlike its more famous chemical cousin, Angel Delight. I’m sure you didn’t watch “Wags: Come Dine with me”. Djibril Cisses’ wife messed up her pudding, so decided to serve Angel Delight disguised as Delice des Anges, after ringing up her husband for a translation. OK, I’ll get my coat. Have a good day.

  7. Anonymous says:

    To ring the changes try a Scottish cooked breakfast, Frank: you get white pudding (as well as black), square sausage, pancake and potato scone all of which soak up the lard wonderfully and you won’t have room for anything poncy like tomatoes or mushrooms.
    They’ll still put the blame on smoking, though.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I love this! Funny thing – about 7 years ago, I sort of had a midlife crisis, I suppose you might call it. I started smoking, quit going to the gym and started cooking and eating pretty much everything without guilt… I lost 120 pounds, and have never had more fun. I’m not about to change back.
    I started a blog – it is, compared to your eloquent writing, simply a shit blog, but I thought you might enjoy it just the same; http://www.taschilb.net/Site/Blog/Blog.html
    I enjoy reading your work, knowing there’s somebody with a genuine and heartfelt opinion about life and living.

  9. Anonymous says:

    and by the way – my personal favorite breakfast for the weekend is Toad in the Hole…

  10. Frank Davis says:

    Toad in the Hole!

  11. Anonymous says:

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  12. Anonymous says:

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  13. Anonymous says:

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