For reasons I won’t go into, I had to spend some time this morning trawling around Waitrose on a quest for a few ingredients which don’t figure in my usual twice-weekly shop (Thai fish sauce, straight-to-wok noodles, etc.). It wasn’t an unpleasurable experience, offering as it did the chance to observe the bright young things of the Reading Festival, with their skimpy shorts and knee-socks and braided purple hair (and that’s just the boys…).
At the checkout, as I finished loading up my substantial haul (does anyone else suffer from the anxiety that the till girl will start scanning before I’ve finished emptying the trolley?) I noticed that the lad behind me had just two items – a bottle of banana-flavoured milk, and a bottle of chocolate flavoured milk – so naturally I gave way to him. His embarrassed mutter and smile of thanks have hung in my mind all day.
Anyway, on my drift through the aisles I had time to reflect on all sorts of things, and one of them turned out to be useless foods. So here are a few. They’re not things I actively dislike or am allergic to or anything, I just think they’re, well, useless.
1. Maldon sea salt. It costs more than Chanel Number 5, and tastes of salt.
2. Saffron. Use turmeric instead. I guarantee that any friend who claims to detect the difference is a food writer for the Guardian.
3. Courgettes. They’re just stroppy adolescent marrows, aren’t they? They need to grow up and resign themselves to their blandness, like we’ve had to.
4. Runner beans. We only grow them because we can, and we only eat them because we’ve grown them. They taste of water, which is what they’re made of.
5. Chick peas. Dried or tinned, they need hours, if not days, of tenderising before they are even half edible, and then it’s like eating a well-soaked duvet.
I have more.