Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Goodbye, Mr No Chips

Image from Hello Magazine

Good food geezer Jamie Oliver has learned the hard way that his chubby-cheeked charm is resistible, given the right circumstances. This well overdue fallen soufflĂ© moment unravelled like a poorly constructed strudel during the making of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution in the US. In retrospect, revolution may have been a little ambitious. Possibly more poor liaison than Paul Revere culminating in culinary Waterloo rather than watercress.

It was a bit like expecting turkey twizzlers to vote for Christmas but Sir Jamie the carb slayer believed he could convince the inhabitants of Huntington, West Virginia, the fattest city in America, to trade in their bucket-o-blubba for a nice piece of steamed broccoli. Half the inhabitants of this fiscally stressed coal town are clinically obese. Comfort eating is clearly more than just a way of life here, it's a civic duty.

Huntington mayor David Felinton (5'9" and a hefty 233 pounds), warns the artichoke avenger that local people have other things on their minds besides learning that food comes in colours other than brown. Somehow this does not compute. But then the knight of nutritious nibbles has faced down these demons before. Who could forget the scenes of parents squeezing bags of freshly minted chicken nuggets through the fences of the primary schools where the saint of stir-fry was attempting to fast-track asparagus awareness?

A Huntington radio host tried his best to convey the stat du jour re cuisine, "We don't want to sit around eating lettuce all day," he warned. A lesser chef might have sensed an Escoffiern gulf in understanding but St. Jamie clearly felt he was only a Lollo Rosso leaf away from salad salvation.

Cut to a classroom where children fail to identify tomatoes on vines, thinking they are, in fact, potatoes. Add a crucifying pinch of heart-threatening open wound salt when their teacher affirms that they can count chips as one of their five fruit and vege per diem requirement for healthy living. Presumably they can supplement with ketchup, onion rings, apple pie and banana split, all of which are conveniently available at any local chow barn.

It ends in tears as the ambassador of ambient eating comes to terms with the cultural chasm. "They don't understand me. They don't know why I'm here," he sobs. A common cry from under-appreciated prophets with results-dependent television careers. As a cautionary measure, St. Jamie, you might want to avoid barbecues in Huntington. 

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Now, I'm a stickler for correct spelling as you know. I admit I don't always get it right but I do my best. Usually I rely on the Oxford English Dictionary's online facility for the definitive version of the vernacular. Today, I came upon the atrocity below when searching for a word. Gratuitous and unseasonal advertising is one thing but misspelling? For shame OUP, for shame.