Thursday, 25 November 2010

Complain, complain, complain

Complain, complain, complain. That’s what it feels like today – a non-stop complaint. But at least there are various flavours of complaint here – and you, my readers, come out of it glowing like something that’s escaped from Sellafield.

To start with, I must have been tempting fate. On Tuesday, I mentioned that my culinary aims for the weeks ahead (and particularly this weekend) include things that involve foie gras.

Then, in yesterday’s Guardian, the excellent Oliver Thring was
considering the issue of that gorgeous treat.

It's an interesting piece – but some of the comments that have flowed forth since are utterly hilarious in their absurdity and vitriol.

It seems that food is becoming one of the new religion substitutes – which rather begs the question of whether the original is preferable to the substitute, as say, in the case of butter and margarine, which brought Mr Thring’s writing to my attention.

Let me share with you a soupçon of the idiocy on display. One poster asserted: “Humans who enjoy eating foie gras may as well just eat their young children after torturingly overfeeding them to the point of their most deliciousness, especially if they realise the despicable reality of this and do it anyway.”

Have you seriously ever read such utterly hysterical, hyperbolic rubbish?

Another poster stated with religious certainty: “No decent person would eat this foodstuff. No moral, decent, pleasant-natured person would consider it.”

Wow. The entire being of anyone (myself included) can be judged, over the internet, on the basis of a foodstuff that I enjoy, which others disapprove of. It’s a view that was voiced by a substantial number of posters.

I can’t help musing that these are probably the self same cretins who ride their bikes pavements and claim that it’s my responsibility, as a pedestrian, to get out of their way while they’re breaking the law.

But then that’s just one of my little bugbears – I have no evidence on which to base such a leap. Just as they lack any basis for assuming that, because I eat foie gras, I’m akin to a really, really evil mix of Hitler, child abusers and generally all-round bad eggs (although obviously, when eating unborn baby chickie-wicks – and I do love them soft-boiled – I try to avoid the bad ones).

But what also riled me was the Puritanical decrying of pleasure: one poster claimed that they enjoyed their food, but they ‘ate to live, not lived to eat’, and detested those who take serious pleasure in food.

Now on that basis, one must be able to decide on and recognise a line in the culinary sand over which one’s pleasure doth not stray.

Which is a pretty bonkers idea, when you think about it. And that's without asking just what is actually wrong with pleasure? There's a certain religiosity in objecting to people taking pleasure in pleasurable things – a bit like claiming that all sex should be for the purposes of procreation alone and that the 'sex-for-pleasure mentality', as I once saw it described, is something beyond the pale.

Of course anyone's completely within their rights to dislike a particular foodstuff on whatever grounds – and to say that. That doesn't get to excuse them from displays of ultra-stupidity, though.

And so such stupidity is complaint number one in today’s litany of Sybaritic whinging (and trust me, writing it down is proving very pleasurable).

Complaint number two is the announcement that I have printed off my Piccolino post – and am sending it, with covering note, to the company that ultimately owns that chain, with a request for a response.

Let’s see what they have to say for themselves – I’ll let you know.

Complaint three is nothing to do with food – although the English reluctance to complain properly about anything (no, complaining over a pint in your local doesn’t count) is a serious point and includes complaints about food and service, such as the Piccolino case.

I got to the Angel on my bus this morning and then got a 476, which was apparently heading for its usual end-of-journey destination at Euston.

Then, outside the old Thamesmead station, we were all informed that it wasn’t going any further and that we’d have to get off.

Now, I know it was only three further stops until my usual destination (I walked), but that’s not the point. The point, as I, err, pointed out, is that this has happened before (I always take care to check the advertised destination before boarding a 476), and I wish to know why the bus company feels that it is entirely acceptable to break the contract that it makes with me, as a customer, unilaterally and without warning.

Because breaking a form of contract is what it amounts to, when I pay for something on the basis of the service advertised and then, for no understandable reason (such as an accident or break-down etc), the terms of that service are changed before what I paid for has been realised.

I await a response.

Now, that’s quite enough complaining for one day.

But wait – I’ve forgotten to mention why you, my readers, come out of all this complaining so well.

It’s simple: whatever any of you may feel about foie gras, none of you would dream of making such ignorant and crass comments as the kind that I quoted above.

I’m lucky to know you as readers.


  1. The "“Humans who enjoy eating foie gras ..." is one of the funniest things I've read in ages - or at least it would be if it wasn't so sad!

    A fantastic example of the kind of mindless fascism powerless people exhibit over the internet; a sort of cyber-disgusted of Tunbridge Wells but with less of a grasp on reality.


  2. Just sent you a PM on Facebook with a link to a French company which sells foie gras and other delicacies online.

  3. So right, Ian.

    And thank you both.