Old staples on the menu
KATE Quilton, presenter of SUPERFOODS: THE REAL STORY (C4), began last night’s journey with a controversial announcement. “Superfoods are everywhere,” she said, which you could have taken two ways.
Maybe they are literally everywhere, the humble nutmeg in your spice rack and the crusting salad cream in your fridge, possessing secret, clock-reversing, wrinkle-ironing qualities only just becoming talked about.
Or maybe it’s not so much superfoods that are everywhere but claims about them, along with attempts to flog a number of underwhelming seeds, beans and shoots to us at a premium price.
Programmes like last night’s, for that reason, ought to be very useful. I say ought to be because, with one exception, last night’s concentrated on products and “miracle qualities” that everyone has known about for a long time. I can’t remember when I first heard that lycopene, a compound in tomatoes, is effective against prostate cancer.
I knew it was long before I was in the risk group for prostate cancer and I am now. In any case, it is pretty useless applying a study based on Neapolitan men to blokes over here. In Naples, they don’t just eat huge amounts of tomatoes, they eat huge amounts of real tomatoes.
If the ones our supermarkets flog contain any lycopene, I suspect it’s diluted by all the chlorinated water that seems to be in them.
Also, I couldn’t give a firm date for the moment red wine became celebrated as a healthy drink.
When I worked as a barman in the mid-Nineties, a lot of my alcoholic customers used to make this same tired joke every time they downed another bucket-sized glass of merlot: “Supposed to be good for you now, isn’t it?”
Perhaps they knew back then what Quilton revealed to everyone last night. In order to gain any benefit from the brain-enhancing qualities of the active compound resveratrol, you’d need to get through about 17 bottles of plonk a day. Surely any superfood that poisons you along the way deserves to be struck off the list?
The secret of healthy eating is all about breaking bad habits and acquiring new, better ones. TV viewing might well be the same.
I watch WENTWORTH PRISON (Channel 5) because it is a distant relation of Prisoner: Cell Block H, a drama that gripped me many years ago. Wentworth makes nods to its ancestor with the same key character names, a steam-filled laundry as the prisoners’ seat of power and an overwhelming tendency for women to end up on the inside as the result of bad men.
One reinvented character we meet is corrupt prison guard Joan “The Freak” Ferguson. Splendidly twisted in the Seventies, the new Joan (Pamela Rabe) is a bare-faced rip-off of Hannibal Lecter.
She’s incarcerated in the prison in this series behind a glass wall but apparently able to smell things and spot tiny details that unsettle all who visit her. Episode two may well involve her eating someone’s liver with some fava beans and a nice bottle of Shiraz.
Apart from the pantomime dame, Wentworth’s only other selling point is the shower block, or rather what goes on there, in a mandatory number of unnecessary scenes.
It makes me sad, really. Preachy as it was and wobbly as its studio sets were Cell Block was hailed for trying to say something original. Wentworth on the other hand, tries equally hard not to.