Opinion: Forget artisan bread and probiotic yoghurt, my kitchen staples are Pot Noodles and potatoes
- Credit: PA
What are your kitchen essentials? Whatever they are, if you can honestly claim that one of them is 'exotic grains' then you're no reader of mine.
Every week I almost drown in an avalanche of press releases from eager public relations companies who are keen to see their client receive some column inches – although it is awfully trendy for journalists to condemn these releases as a dreadful imposition on our incredibly precious time, I don't think of them that way.
Some poor so-and-so is tasked with the dreadful job of having to try and flog a dead horse like herbal toilet cleaner or garlic toothpaste so it seems that the least I can do is read it. And read it I do – every single press release receives my attention. Occasionally, they merit a story, sometimes they merit those column inches.
The other day, I received a great one about a particular brand of rapeseed oil. I like rapeseed oil and use it exclusively if someone gives it to me for free.
According to a survey carried out by a rapeseed oil company (I'll mention them, they did all the hard work – Borderfields, although other rapeseed oils are available) the list of kitchen essentials that we modern-day folk want to find in the room where we keep the oven has changed hugely over the years.
It no longer includes storecupboard staples like Angel Delight, Arctic Roll, Ice Magic and Wotsits, but instead a list of posh stuff that I wouldn't know how to cook if I was held up at gunpoint next to a recipe book.
'Balsamic vinegar has been hailed the number one pantry essential for Brits this century, in a recent independent survey of UK consumers,' trilled the release, 'rapeseed oil, flavoured oils, ground coffee and frozen yoghurts all proved popular choices and made it into the top 10.'
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The list, in order, is as follows. Tick the number of these kitchen essentials that you have in your house right now: balsamic vinegar (no), ground coffee (no), herbal teas (no), frozen and probiotic yoghurts (no), flavoured oils (YES! Given to me), artisan breads (no), rapeseed oil (YES! Given to me), superfruits (no, unless you count the tins of pineapple chunks left over from a cheese and pineapple hedgehog), hummous (YES! AND I BOUGHT IT!), exotic grains and pulses (no, although there are four sachets of Uncle Ben's microwaveable rice, which is quite exotic).
Let's get something straight: I own a 4x4, I part-own a small, heinously expensive pedigree dog with an ironic name, I live in the Golden Triangle (in a period property, natch), I have an unpronounceable forename that comes from a Thomas Hardy book, I work in the media, I studied something stupid at university, I am a vegetarian, I am left-wing, there is a Coldplay track on my iTunes account (not downloaded by me), I have a Norfolk Museums Pass, I own mid-century Danish furniture, my kitchen units are painted in Farrow and Ball, I have vintage quilts, a friend that works for the British Council, my dad used to give talks about jazz, I have been to one of those concerts at Blickling Hall where you take a picnic and have some kind of wire holder thing to keep your wine glass from falling over.
I have made my own chutney and posted pictures of food I've made to Instagram, I've ordered 'heritage' tomatoes from a menu, I have been known to do those annoying 'micro-claps' of joy when something good happens to me, I despise other people that are allowed to build their vulgar extensions but am annoyed my loft conversion has been questioned by City Hall, I have (lots) of scented candles, I have owned iMacs for more than 10 years, I have a butler sink, I once took acting lessons (I didn't want to), I know where wild garlic grows, I am overly-effusive when I thank people, I buy too much cheese at Christmas, all my bed linen is 100 per cent cotton, I have been to a supper club and my son prefers quail's eggs to hen's (this is true).
In short, I am about as middle-class as it is possible to get (although I clearly drop a few class points for pointing it out) but I've only got three out of ten of these so-called 'kitchen staples' in my cupboards and that's only because someone else gave two of them to me.
These are rubbish kitchen staples. Where's the ketchup? Or the potatoes? Or the spaghetti hoops in neon orange sauce? Here are my kitchen essentials: a vast amount of condiments to mask the flavour of whatever rubbish I have cooked, vodka, Pot Noodles (three flavours, for every occasion), bread – preferably several half-used loaves in varying states of decay for the full, gluten-based version of 'Russian Roulette', Monster Energy (bribe for teenage son), Malteasers (bribe for teenage daughter), wine, beige things, limp green things that can be kept in the salad box in the fridge and therefore pretty much count towards our five a day, potatoes, the king of vegetables.
On the plus side for the PR, I mentioned the company and I do own rapeseed oil. And I didn't go for the jugular over the quote about how olive oil – WHICH HAS BEEN USED SINCE THE 7th MILLENNIUM BC – has 'become a bit old hat in recent years'. It was quite hard not to, though.