Don’t get me wrong, some of the stuff they supply is good, reasonably priced & they deliver regularly which is a godsend when you are located in say, Uzbekistan-I mean Cygnet. I’d be nuts not to use them, in fact nearly everyone does. Their clients range from supermarkets, chippies, bakeries, corner stores, cafes & restaurants, any place that serves food actually. This is my point.
Much of the stuff I just don’t buy, I mean we make nearly everything here so I just glaze over when I regard the cascading A4 sheets of their immense product directory. However, once I began to really scrutinize the glossy pages I felt a conflicted sense of repulsion & fascination at the range of convenience foodstuffs that they carry. This stunning insight made me realise that so many businesses MUST be ordering this stuff for them to have pages of the stuff on their inventory-Yikes!
Take for instance the breaded & partially fried ‘Butterfly chicken breast Schnitzel’, the ‘beer battered garfish’, the ‘salt & pepper squid’ or ‘Tempura chicken breast nuggets’. Staples I’m sure, of pub dining rooms around the country but, is it that difficult to make them yourself? Sure it might be cheaper adding into the equation labour costs etc & there’s always those pesky consistency issues that we face when employing humans, but what is actually in these products? It would be fair to say a whole lotta-filla goes into making them as cheap as possible, that’s for sure.
In order to capitalize on the zeitgeist of the times, the list embraces the multicultural theme & traverse’s the globe seeking to represent all the current buzzwords. ‘Traditional French crepe mix’ (how hard is it to make crepes?), ‘Lasagne Toppers’ (for the uninitiated: lasagne coated in flour, egg wash & breadcrumbs, partially fried, Antonio Carluccio would be proud!) vaguely Asian ‘Devil wing dings’ (deftly combining the notion of Yellow Peril with something tasty) , Mini ‘Dagwood dog’( hat tip to America), Spring roll ‘Hong Kong style’ (whatever that means) or my particular favourite for all the wrong reasons ‘Pre cooked chicken or lamb Yiros meat’(now the Greek Pantheon of gods will rest in peace for sure!)
I understand the need for consistency. I understand the need to keep labour cost down.
BUT, some of these products cannot stand up to scrutiny if you intend to stand by what you serve.
To take this argument further how’s about: ‘Pre cooked beef or chicken patties’ (In the words of Austin Powers, “Honestly, who buys in a pre-cooked burger?”) ‘Scrambled egg Mix ( I want to know how much is egg & how much is ‘mix’) or this; ‘Pre poached eggs”, WHAT THE FUCK!
You can probably guess that I am not a ‘heavy user’ of these products. The really scary thing is that SO many places use these products & their ilk that the mind really boggles. Remember the 'pre-cooked lamb shank' revelation a few months back?
Look if you are happy eating this stuff when you go out, then, go ahead, it’s your choice, but please have the decency NOT to chuck all restaurants & cafes into the same basket when you inevitably question price, value & quality.
Some places just don’t use this stuff & surely you can tell the difference? I think this point of difference should be revered, celebrated & encouraged & the only way to do this is by patronising the places that make this effort to make their own food largely from scratch. It might mean paying a bit more initially but the current alternatives on offer will cost us a whole lot more in a whole more ways in the longer term.