Guilty Pleasures & Dirty Secrets

I’m a fraud and this is my confession. I love some really unspeakable, filthy, and questionable bits of food. The whole process from acquiring the products to consuming them is shameful. For my sins, I’ll probably go to hell, but you’re probably all coming with me, because everyone is guilty of this crime.

I hate to use the term ‘Food Trend’, but we are undoubtedly going through a trend for all things healthy in our current instagramable lives. And this purge is probably a reaction to the previous trend (which we’re still experiencing), for the love of gourmet junk food, i.e. the BBQ/ Burger/ Craft Beer fiasco. So whist everyone is projecting the image of their #meatFreeMondays or Chia seeds and avocado for breakfast, they are also loosing touch with some of the wonderful pleasures in life, like the St John Eccles cake consumed with Mrs Kirkham’s finest Lancashire cheese, which is one of the most wonderful flavour combinations on earth and everyone should experience it once.

But forgive me as I have a standard shameful act, that occurs when I’m hung over and this is my cure. I actually prefer this combo to a Full English. It’s a MacDonald’s Cheeseburger, or two, with a can of coke, or two. And I stress a can, not those plastic bottles or a diluted icy MacDonald’s coke, it must be a can. So when I take my hangover out for breakfast I buy him, or her, a can of coke from a newsagent or somewhere (because I’m classy) and I like to hold the chilled drink on my forehead for a few minutes and roll it from side to side, this helps with my headache and is is why the can is a must. With that phase completed, I can enter the golden arches to make the transaction of 99p for a soft, sweet, salty representation of a cheeseburger. It just puts me right and I always manage to stomach one, or two. The soft brioche and fat soaks up the remaining booze in my stomach and all that other junk in the burger sorts out my salt and sugar levels, which seem to be deficient with a hang over, almost as if they have been working on what makes people want something for when the body is craving it. Even the texture works for me and that shitty processed cheese slice which looks like plastic. This cheese represents so much about this Botox burger and how it doesn’t age with all that plastic surgery or shall I say MacDonald’s mummification, as apparently they will keep preserved for a millennia. But despite all the bad stuff, it does me good, it restores balance to my messed up world and calms the turmoil from the night before.

Back to the cheese. I personally think cheese slices work best in a burger and a 2-year-old Cheddar over powers the sandwich. I once had a conversation with Mary Quicke (Devon’s Queen of artisan cheese making) and told her how much I love shitty cheap cheese on a burger. She just politely smiled at me. I then went on to tell her how I am also partial to an instant coffee with loads of milk & sugar, it’s a completely different drink to me, almost like having a Horlicks. We buy Quickes cheese for the bakery though, so I hope she understands that I also love quality and my lapses are rare and guilt ridden. Maybe I’ll send this blog post to Mary to help her understand that I’m not a total prick and that my point is coming from somewhere.

But now I’m going to go more low brow and discuss or should I say confess my deepest, darkest food secret. The Greggs Vanilla Custard Slice. It’s a whore, and I’m a pervert willing to pay good money for what she has to on offer. This chilled rubbery excuse for a cake has probably never even heard of real vanilla, never mind being made of the stuff. But how I love them. I love them for who they are, a cheap, sugary, poorly made slice of confectionary, which cost 95p and is readily available in nearly every town. I’m not trying to pardon Greggs and the rest of the stuff it produces, I’m not even trying to pardon it’s vanilla slice, it’s low end stuff and could be dramatically improved on so many levels. But it’s my love affair and I’m gonna continue, even when I get caught in the act. Every couple of months there is a moment where I get the urge and it’s simply a case of circumstance, I find myself near a Greggs or simply see a Greggs out of the corner of my eye, that delicious blue and magnolia branding. It can happen to anyone. You’re in an unfamiliar place, on your own, less likely to see someone you know, the risk of embarrassment is lowered considerably and the door is open, with a very appealing invitation to mouth fuck the shit out of a Gregg’s Vanilla Slice! Just don’t tell the wife.