I’ve had one of those Damascene moments that remind you there is always something new to learn about liberalism and tolerance. It involves chocolate* and chicken. Bear with me while I watch the TV a minute.
On Channel 4 just now was Willie’s Chocolate Revolution. Willie, his wife Tania and their children Bunty, Tristram and Ezekiel (or something like that) live in a gorgeous Georgian house in Devon and make chocolate. And it only gets more annoying from thereon in.
For a start, Willie insists on calling cocoa “kacow”, according to the South American pronunciation. He sounds like a dairy farmer with an unconquerable stutter. Look, the word if you’re speaking English is “cocoa”, right? We don’t correct our raggedy old eighteenth-century pronounciations for any other foodstuffs.
This, in truth, would probably not irritate me by itself. What irritates me is the sight of an upper middle class man with a huge Georgian rectory (gee, and it’s before the watershed) raving about his intention to “educate” the British masses about “real” chocolate. “It’s about health, and real authentic tastes, and about me being someone who owns a farm in Venezuela telling people how to live in a more middle class manner,” he says, or words to that effect.
I suddenly realise that he’s a much more irritating and self-conscious version of Hugh Fearlessly-Eats-It-All, whose stout stand against the battery hen saw Tescos embarrassed late last year. I don’t get irritated by Hugh. But watching Willie it occurs to me that this is probably because I already like cooking. I already like eating vegetables most of the week and meat only two or three times. Nobody needs to convince me of the virtues of making stock from my Sunday chicken, or building a meal round whatever looks good at the market.
But by god, threaten to take my Mini Eggs away, and you will find me a formidable foe. I suddenly find myself thinking in Tory. “But I LIKE rubbish British chocolate! Don’t wanna be re-educated! Take your filthy horrid nasty pure 100% cocoa chocolate away!”
I’ve tried, I really have. I’m an inveterate chocolate eater, and leap at the chance to guzzle down other challenging flavours, so you’d think high-cocoa content chocolate would be a natural progression for me. Tried. Never got it. And the trouble is, whenever anyone says something like, “Oh but you simply must try insert-over-packaged-brand-here! You’ll love it – it’s organic/from Somerset/hand-knitted by impoverished Peruvian yaks!”, what they are implicitly saying is that you haven’t tried hard enough before. You have failed, Mortimer, in the matter of chocolate appreciation. That’s what they’re saying.
Well, I say ha. I say fie, and a pox on your nobby nasty chocolate. If you want to eat stuff that smells and tastes (yes, I know the difference, and how they interact) like it’s been scraped out of the grooves of a tyre just because it’s wrapped in very swish matt black packaging (where do these people’s eco-credentials go when it comes to the packaging, by the way?), be my guest. But I for one am quite happy wallowing in a trough of sugar, milk and fat and any perpetrators of further do-goodery in this matter will find themselves on the business end of a Twirl sharpish.
* With apologies to Stuart Sharpe, who is on the wagon (wheel) until Sunday.