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Tony Grist

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Chicken Out [Jan. 11th, 2008|10:28 am]
Tony Grist
This is the week for being nice to chickens. I've watched celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's three films about how he tried to turn his home town of Axminster into a free-range paradise and tonight his pal- fellow celebrity chef Jaimie Oliver- has a related programme in which he's going to be killing chickens on stage and cooking chicken nuggets and similar atrocities in front of a live audience in order to sicken us to our stomachs.

It's spilling out into the real world too. Jaimie said something that angered Sainsburys- for whom he makes all those lovely blokey ads- and has been forced to issue an apology. And now the word is that Sainsbury's is going to be writing to all of us who own one of their in-store nectar cards to explain how tenderly they love their chickens.

Ever felt you were being got at? Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is a very nice chap but if I found him loitering by the chiller cabinet in my local Tesco's and he tried to browbeat me into buying the more expensive cuts (as he did in the film- and I'm amazed Tesco allowed him to do it) I'd get pretty annoyed. A lot of people in Axminster got pretty annoyed too and wrote nasty things about him in the papers- like he was only doing it to big up his own (very expensive) farm shop. Poor Hugh, how he suffered. A prophet is not without honour save in his own country and among his own people.

So? Well I'm a natural contraian but I don't suppose I'm the only viewer who started off supporting Hugh and ended the week wanting to shout, "fuck off, posh boy".  Because, see, I'm  on Hayley's side. Hayley is the magnificently assertive, single mum who participated in all Hugh's little projects and publicity stunts and was last seen popping into Tesco's for her two factory-farmed birds for a fiver. And she didn't do it sneakily either. All along she stood up to Hugh's blandishments and bullying.  Yes, she kept saying (in so many words) it's very sad about the chickens but they are only chickens and free range is for those who an afford it, not me.

(A couple of people on a discussion site Ailz frequents said, "Well look at her, she's fat. She could afford real meat if she laid off the cakes"- which made me really, really cross. Nice one, Hugh, you've set up someone much poorer than you as a national hate figure. Someone poorer and braver.)

But here's the rub- the Devil's equation.  Animal cruelty means Hayley's kids can eat meat. Take the cheap chickens off the shelves in Tesco's and the poor can't afford roast dinners. Hugh's had no answer for Hayley except  to go all shruggy and teary-eyed and self-pitying. He's a rich man and his pal Jaimie's a rich man and for all their down with the real people blather I just don't think they get it. 

[User Picture]From: shullie
2008-01-11 02:22 pm (UTC)
I agree with that - I use to go round and show women how to cook on a budget in the 80's...lol I was asked by my health visitor etc to go into groups and talk about how I managed on a very low income ( we lived on the dole for nearly 10 years...!! in thos dark depressing years of waste management by MrsT)- I was in my mid twenties then. A good size chicken fed us for 3 days!! lol

it seemed that most young women/girls here in the area of Sheffield I lived/ ( and now live again) didn't know how to cook for a start... and the supermarkets appeared to, and still do, offer cheaper processed allternatives for the masses. Maybe I was lucky in that I belonged to the last load of young people taught home economics at school, and that my mum taught be how to cook from scratch. The other stuff I learnt... as I love my food...lol

I found out that many people don't know how to make basics, prefering to use jars/packets/frozen processed stuff etc all the time... which is actually more expensive.

I did eventually have an allotment ...lol and grew stuff... though in the end my kids would beg me to buy them processed stuff...lol and bought cake/busicuts etc. i found out later they use to swap their home made food in their school\lunhces...lol It's only now they say how much their friends really liked my home made stuff...

I have to say I have become lazy too... and for while we too bought into the supermarket hype... strangely as we got materially richer.... now we are 'poor' again... well finaicially, that is, ( I am on disability and he has just been laid off) I am looking back and rethinking it . Speaking to my kids who can all cook from 'nothing much to their friends amazement at uni etc, I don't think it was a bad thing.

So back to what you were saying perhaps Channel 4 and Hugh and other TV chefs needs to do a series on how to eat ethically on a crippling budget... and perhasp bring it back into the school and culture that even the 'poor' people can cook!

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-12 10:24 am (UTC)
It's curious, isn't it- food porn- all those celebrity chefs with their cookbooks and TV series- has never been more popular and yet there are loads and loads of people out there who don't know how to cook.

I think everyone- boys as well as girls- should be taught the basics in school.

I never had a lesson. What few skills I have I picked up through having to do it- and from reading the 1960 edition of Mrs Beeton- which my mother gave me on the occasion of my first marriage.
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