Good Food Blog
Jamie's latest standPosted at 11:02AM, 29 August 2008 by Graham Holliday - Blogger
'Sleb chef Jamie Oliver went on the offensive this week. His target - British food and British people. In an interview with Paris Match, the Naked Chef pronounced us as "drunks with diets worse than those found in the poorest slums of Soweto... I found the cooking of the inhabitants of the slum in Soweto in South Africa a lot more diverse than ours. It's true! I'm going to be harsh, but I think a lot of English people's food lacks heart. It's bland."
Jamie Oliver's attack was also about lifestyle, the lack of a proper diet and how he thinks people waste their money on buying "huge TV sets - a lot bigger than mine" when they should care more about what they put inside their stomachs.
All of which no doubt went very well in France, where this article was published, as he did his bit to help reinforce French stereotypes, while promoting the idea of a new TV show he is planning about French food.
What passes as British food is often bland, a bit of a health hazard and more often than not microwaved.
However, he's more right than wrong. What passes as British food is often bland, a bit of a health hazard and more often than not microwaved, but as Oliver well knows from his school dinners work it's a result of a wide variety of factors - basic health education, availability of fresh produce, price, time and priorities.
In a Soweto slum like Kliptown, it's probably not that easy to nip down to the supermarket and buy a bag of Turkey Twizzlers or a cellophane wrapped chicken biryani. There's no refrigeration for a start. Fresh food, some of it still alive and kicking, has always been the main option in hot places lacking electricity. If you build up a taste for fresh food from a very young age it is more likely to stay with you. Regardless of whether you come from a Soweto slum or chav central Croydon, you'd be able to taste the difference and make a judgement based on taste. Sadly, for most of us Brits that just never happened. We often have to relearn how to taste.
As Jamie says: "In the past British cuisine was similar to Italian cuisine nowadays, without the pasta and risotto. Steam cooking, grilled meat, herbs, spices - we used to cook fabulous dishes. It's all in the past! Unlike French people, and I regret it, we lost our traditions."
There is hope though. Even Gordon Ramsay says he only learned to taste at a later age...