These are the stories that shaped my life. These are My Memoirs
Joe Hoover is the multi award-winning author of the internationally applauded sign “Do not deposit feminine hygiene products in toilet – use container provided for this purpose”.
He is currently working on a series of essays to Camden council examining the relationship between their duty to collect the rubbish on a weekly basis coupled with their failure to carry out that duty on his street for 3 weeks.
It is a staple of childhood that we will have issues with our food. You can bet that in Neanderthal times, hairy children would refuse to eat mammoth excrement, a surefire way to be sent to bed early and miss watching the clan simultaneously bugger each other and beat each other senseless.
I never really had many food issues apart from the usual allergic reaction to vegetables, in truth we don’t give children a chance to appreciate them, I recall a school Christmas dinner when I was five. If you imagine the dining hall in Oliver Twist then you will be along the right lines, forced to stay at the table if you didn’t eat your peas. Christmas was thus forever ruined.
To this day even food as innocuous as pasta is not eaten in my parents house, dismissed as “foreign muck” forgetting that the ingredients of flour egg and water are pretty universal. This is unfortunately a common British trait of certain generations, but try showing a hard-nosed British-only food nut that their precious HP sauce is a mixture of wildly exotic spices from the far-flung corners of the globe. “Don’t talk rubbish” they say “it has a picture of Parliament on it” Even in the days before mass consumerism, marketing execs knew the subtle art of association.
As I grew up I ate what I was given, and that would usually be of an orange hue, everything on the plate coated in a crispy crumb, this was of course in a golden era of convenience when food could be sapped of flavour and frozen instantly for the consumer to suffer at home. There were supermarkets dedicated to the frozen food, the store we visited to shiver in frozen aisles was called ‘Cordon Bleu’ – the irony obviously not lost on its owners.
You know you are onto a downward spiral when a manufacturer has to take a perfectly formed piece of meat and reform it. Reformed chicken breasts, like they were not breast shaped to begin with – like breast augmentation for chickens. Or fish fingers made of “reformed fish style pieces”. How can something be styled like a fish?
I never even got to taste what resembled a fish in the fish style fish fingers. Fish was an unknown quantity in our house, my mother defending it’s ommitance since it “smelt of fish”. You can’t really argue with that reasoning.
I tried my first real piece of fish, albeit covered in an orange batter and deep-fried, when my mother had to go to hospital for her hysterectomy (The procedure was explained to us in full detail at the time, including diagrams). My Gran therefore came to look after us for the week and I tried my first piece of fish, food procured from somewhere other than the icy depths of our freezer. This was also my first proper taste of real chips too, I recognised the colours having now been accustomed to every food source being orange, but the taste was something else, this was the taste of deep-fried rather than our usual frozen foods semi-defrosted and semi-cooked simultaneously in the oven.
If this was what semi-real food tasted like then I wished for my mother to have a hundred hysterectomy’s (they failed to mention it can only be done once)