You wouldn’t know it from my fridge but I’m alert to what its contents imply about me. You are what you eat – and what I eat appears to include corned beef.
Hey! Do you want to know how well-bred you are? Then open your fridge. I just took The Telegraph’s How posh is your fridge? test which, in turn, it had cribbed from society magazine Tatler. (Pippa Middleton reads this magazine, and nobody’s fridge is more intriguing to me than hers. I mean, what do a party planner and a billionaire hedge fund manager eat for breakfast? It won’t be Rice Bubbles; I think we can all agree on that.)
Thanks to this test, I found out that because I have neither Champagne, nor anything with a face in my Smeg (a brace of pheasant, perhaps, or a whole trout), I’m from the lowly middle classes. I guess I knew this anyway, because we don’t have a Smeg. We don’t even have a butter conditioner.
I was briefly depressed after discovering I was common, so I decamped to Moore Wilson’s for coffee and brioche. If you’ve never been, it’s an upmarket grocery for people who’d probably score highly on the fridge test. It’s where the One Per Cent buy prosciutto by the slice; I go there, sometimes, to feel – I don’t know, like I didn’t do a Bachelor of Arts, but maybe a Master of Business Administration.
Moore Wilson’s is lovely. The staff wear aprons and they have a cute little rest area for dogs. Their vegetables are a learning opportunity (who knew that fresh turmeric was so knobbly?).
They have a wet fish counter, and a cheese room selling wheels of brie the size of actual wheels. Get this: they divide their dairy into classifications you didn’t even know existed, like Washed Rind Cheese. What the dang is a washed rind cheese?
They sell walnuts in the shell and cranberry meringues; there are loops of sausages hanging from hooks, and crepes so thin that even when they’re folded into quarters they’re thinner than the ones you make at home. And the shoppers know what they’re doing.
They mostly wear bobs and capri pants, and often bend at the waist to take an up-close look at the produce. Freshness and authenticity matter to them; nearness to the land. None of them appear to have turned an actual sod in their lives, or killed a sheep, but Moore Wilson’s is the next best thing.
I took the kids there, once. We goggled at all the wobbly-looking patisserie and the cut flowers (they sell leaves for like, eight bucks apiece, and call them foliage).
“Come and see the lobsters!” I said brightly. We gazed at the crayfish in a bubbling tank. They waved their feelers at us, and swivelled their gimlet eyes.
I coulda been somebody, one lobster seemed to be telling me, instead of a bum, which is what I am; let’s face it.
“They scare me,” announced Maddy; and that was the end of that.
You wouldn’t know it from my fridge, but I’m alert to what its contents imply about me. You are what you eat (and what I eat appears to include corned beef ) but what’s vastly more interesting is what we aspire to eat, and what that says about who want to be.
As I drift around Moore Wilson’s, I imagine being the kind of person who buys fresh stock by the blister pack, or whips up Israeli couscous, impromptu, for friends. In fact, I will do all my shopping later at the chilled box which is Countdown Crofton Downs. But that isn’t who I really am; it’s just who I am right now.
That’s food and identity; meanwhile food and memory has been over-documented, really, thanks to that interminable French bore, Marcel Proust. Yah, his Remembrance of Things Past is a monument of 20th century literature, but I’m glad I never sat next to him at dinner. What a wind-bag!
If you haven’t read it (I haven’t, but this makes me objective) it’s a meditation on existence narrated by some kind of male hysteric who barely ever gets out of bed. (Or was that Proust himself? All I know is there were seven volumes, which is unforgivable.)
There’s a long passage about childhood triggered by the narrator eating a finger of sponge called a madeleine. This is the high point of the novel, which explains why it has never been made into a movie.
Anyone who has studied the art of the novel wishes Proust had eaten an eclair.
Anyhow; I was once at Moore Wilson’s when the fire alarms went off and we had to dump our baskets and stand outside, forlornly, leaving the shop deserted.
I did wonder what the lobsters made of our sudden evacuation. Perhaps, like Proust, they meditated on the pointlessness of existence. I coulda had class, the lobster might have said.
As could I; but the moment had gone.
“There’s a passage about eating a sponge finger. This is the high point, which explains why it’s never been made into a movie.”