Peanuts Anonymous

I was asked to write an article about peanuts and I couldn’t resist writing this piece once the idea came to me. Of course it wasn’t suitable for the magazine so I wrote a ‘straight’ article as well for them. This one is more fun.

I looked around furtively at the other faces in the room. We were all sat in a circle and we all had a problem. The group leader looked directly at me as a new member.

‘Would you like to go first, Ian?’ he said.

I stood up ‘My name’s Ian and I am a peanutaholic.’

A few of the others nodded sagely some carried on looking at the floor.

‘Go on,’ said Adrian.

‘It all started when I was sixteen and I had my first pint of beer. I wasn’t impressed by the beer so I had a packet of dry roast peanuts to take the taste away. As soon as I felt the crunch and tasted the salty roast flavour of those nuts I knew I had found something to live for. Before long I was buying a dozen packets at a time and making sure there was always a packet to hand. It didn’t matter what they were; ready salted, dry roast even peanuts in their shells. Then I discovered peanut butter.’

There were a few gasps from the others, probably over how low I had sunk. I looked guiltily at the ceiling. I had come this far in my confession and it didn’t seem to matter anymore. I continued.

‘I used to buy it in two kilo tubs.’

‘Been there,’ the guy sitting next to me said and there were murmurs and heads nodding and I knew I was amongst friends.

‘I used to have peanut butter and Marmite sandwiches for breakfast and lunch. Next thing I knew I was buying sacks of peanuts in pet shops and making my own.’

One of the girls started crying. Another came and put her arm around my shoulders.

‘To hide my addiction I started making Indonesian food and was eating satay every night. That’s when I knew things were getting out of control.’

Suddenly all eyes were swivelling towards one of the older ladies. Adrian stood up.

‘Rosemary, are you hiding something?

‘I’m sorry Adrian, I forgot I had it.’ She pulled her hand from the folds of her dress. She was holding a peanut brittle. A sort of ripple went around the group as it was revealed. The expressions on their faces went from shock to longing. One man groaned.

‘Rosemary, you know we don’t allow any peanut products into group meetings.’

She stood up and with her head down she walked towards the swing doors of the hall. But before they closed after her we all heard the crackle of the cellophane wrapper and I don’t believe there was anyone in that group who wasn’t envious of Rosemary and salivating at the thought of biting into that crack hard brittle sugar to the peanuts within. I was beginning to fidget. One man ran out in desperation.

‘OK, calm down everyone,’ Adrian said. ‘We always lose one or two at these meetings. Let’s hear from you Stanley.’

A lugubrious looking man stood up. He didn’t look like the usual peanutaholic to me but then it takes all sorts.

‘For years I thought I had it under control.’ Stanley said. ‘I was working as a KP, that’s kitchen porter to you but I got the sack for raiding the fruit and nuts from the larder. I was trying to control it and used to have a couple of packets of dry-roast a day but then I realised it was escalating. I was on Reece’s peanut butter cups and several Snickers a day and kid myself it was just for the chocolate. I ended up living in a peanut den at a squat in Islington. There were desperate people in there; you couldn’t really get away from it. There were parties with people bringing in peanut brownies, peanut cup cakes with peanut butter icing, peanut butter and jam sandwiches cut into little triangles, chocolate coated peanuts as petits fours; someone would bring in a peanut curry; oh man we were out of it for days – until we got more in.’

I couldn’t take any more; I could feel the withdrawal symptoms kicking in. I made for the doors and pushed my way out. Stanley was behind me. ‘Pub?’ he said

‘Too right, I replied.

‘Two large scotches,’ I said to the barman.

He scanned our faces with a practised eye as he put them on the bar. ‘Any peanuts?’ he asked.

I looked at Stanley and he nodded.

I said ‘Oh, go on then.’

Writings

Ian writes regularly about food and cooking and is building a portfolio of photographs to compliment the recipes generated by his different activities.
He is therefore able to supply a complete package for any publishing project. Ian has written articles for ‘Caterer and Hotel Keeper’, ‘Eat Out’ and ‘The Restaurant Business’ magazines and for the Guardian. This is a small selection.

The Pheasants are Revolting

Is it just me or do all chef’s hearts sink on August 31st and you realize it’s “Pheasant Season” again. Usually we are reminded by our friendly, helpful meat supplier (or ‘Purveyor of High Class Meat and Poultry, licensed to sell Game’) who on the first day of the season rings to offer you the first birds.

…Keep reading

Saint Valentines Day Rant

‘……. and definitely no heart shaped puddings, croutons, chocolates, starters, potatoes or garnishes’, I conclude when the staff ask if we are doing anything special for Valentine’s night?’

…Keep reading

The Rules of Catering

There are two dates in the caterer’s calendar when all involved feel like giving up, selling up or throwing their hands up in despair. These times are at the end of August and the Christmas and New Year holiday. You feel worn down by the continuous grind of business pressure, never having five minutes respite and problems piling on top of other problems not yet resolved. At all other times of the year we are confident, happy, urbane, smiling and generally full of good cheer. All businesses have their crosses to bear, but in the catering industry with all its complexities we probably get more than …

…Keep reading

Service Charge

My head hurts, my feet ache, and I’m only half way through the afternoon. I still have the rest of the prep to do and a busy service that probably won’t finish till around midnight. I am a bit concerned whether I can cope with it. It must be something to do with it being a week of hectic nights and the over zealous sampling of the new half bottles last night that has put me in this state; but hell, I’ve coped with more, feeling worse and no doubt I’ll do it again.

…Keep reading

The Pemmican Brief

Working as a freelance chef I came into contact with many aspects of the catering industry. Some jobs can be difficult and stressful, some easy and delightful. There is also the bog standard, the interesting, and what might be deemed the glamorous. Sometimes I do what is called ‘food styling’ which is a rather pretentious term for presenting food for photography or film. This can be a very frustrating job; you work all day or maybe several producing food for a scene and eventually it is on the screen for a nanosecond or is cut altogether. After filming it is usually eaten by the crew who would eat a lump of coal if it had a sprig of parsley on it.

…Keep reading

Aromasextherapy

Food and sex are inextricably linked. Smell is the lure, consummation the reward. In the middle ages everybody and everything stank. Sewers were open pits or gullies, nobody bathed and there was no refrigeration. If your food didn’t reek because it was off it was probably smothered in some concoction of spices to make it taste of something else. Perfume wasn’t worn as a subtle hint of exotic unguents and flowers, it was plastered on in the hope that no one mistook you for a rank old goat that…

…Keep reading

Cutting the Mustard

Two things I wish I had known when I was seventeen; one was simple, if you chase girls they tend to run away but that’s another story. The other is a bit more mundane but makes a lot of difference if you are intent on making cooking your career, and that is the culinary properties of mustard. A lot of people think that mustard is just hot stuff for going on pork pies and roast beef but it is so much more.

…Keep reading

Peanuts Anonymous

I was asked to write an article about peanuts and I couldn’t resist writing this piece once the idea came to me. Of course it wasn’t suitable for the magazine so I wrote a ‘straight’ article as well for them. This one is more fun.

I looked around furtively at the other faces in the room. We were all sat in a circle and we all had a problem. The group leader looked directly at me as a new member.

‘Would you like to go first, Ian?’ he said.

…Keep reading