Food Intolerances or is that Tolerate!

Sorry to disappoint but this is not a blog about being intolerant or allergic to any food, more a blog on what we shouldn’t tolerate, like no one should tolerate 70’s dinner party food or food with green mould on it or food slop banged in front of you with no love and passion (not mentioning any names).

Brits are so good at not complaining, we prefer never to go back or worst still rant about it on social media, giving dire scores on trip advisor, wrecking a restaurants reputation until it goes bankrupt, closes down and opens as a nail salon (which somehow has far too many red lights at the windows).

But then again us Brits aren’t good at taking criticism either, we will defend and moan before we admit we did anything wrong. Not to mention some of the things chefs do behind closed doors if there is a complaint – unprofessional I know but I was once one of them, not a bad one but one who witnessed chefs adulterating ingredients in annoyance.

You know when someone says the chef will spit in the food if you send it back – they might be right. I hope they aren’t right, I would hope times have changed since my younger days in the kitchen world with a dozen male chefs kicking off about anything, egging each other on.

So we are left with not wanting to complain, became we don’t like confrontation and sticky embarrassing situations, we also feel why should we moan because it should be right in the first place. Then if we do say something you get staff who can’t take it, react badly and just avoid you for the rest of your meal or who call a 12 year old manager who doesn’t know what to say.

Good ole America – they know how to deal with it all, with their “oh, my’s” and a multitude of apologies, freebies and money offs and not an embarrassed body in site.

So what should not be tolerated –

We’ll off food is a definite for the list – I’ve often been served fresh juice which has turned, or lettuce that’s gone brown or fish with a tang in the air about it.

Raw food – of course somethings are supposed to be raw but chickens not one of them, I was once served a practically raw chicken leg – I’m a chef I should know but the waiter insisted it was cooked. Pork is served pink these days – I think we need to keep an eye on that one! Fish should be served just cooked – but on occasions I’ve had it served raw in the middle. Salmon and tuna are perfect served this way but a £17.50 hake dish should flake in tender deliciousness and not stick to the skin in red rawiness!

Bitter, salty, sour or bad tasting food – sometimes, just sometimes chefs don’t taste their food or add too much of an ingredient they shouldn’t and what’s left is an inedible dish. Like once in a very smart restaurant I had a walnut sauce made with so much beefy oxo flavour that I really couldn’t eat more than a mouth full, nor could the waiter. I once was force fed mashed potatoes at school when the dinner ladies obviously accidently poured far too much white pepper in them – hasten to say I couldn’t touch pepper until I was in my 20’s. And once a upon a time a chef put so much lemon in a dish my mouth puckered for a whole hour.

Over cooked, burnt or chewy food – only last year I was served a burger so over cooked it bounced on the floor (not true) and black bits coated the bun (true) – it went back after I tapped it on the table and it made a dent. And I hate it when bread is NUKED – to an inch of its doughy life in a microwave. I can only assume the cook was trying to warm the bun through only microwaving bread is not cool – if you overdo it – it turns hard with rigamortice making it inedible, it can even break your teeth! Another thing that gets my goat is when certain meat isn’t cooked properly and is left fibrous, hard or chewy – like a steak which was never a steak, rather a piece of leather.

Particles, limbs or objects of nastiness – I accept hairs on my plate, it’s not pleasant but I understand hair falls out, it might be the chefs, or the waitress, it might even be mine or my daughter sitting next to me or a flying cat – I just flick it to the floor and move on. Hair wedged in my food is another matter – like the time I found a long hair welded in to a dish, if it’s a cheap café I ignore it – if it’s an expensive restaurant I get it replaced – for right or for wrong. Slugs in my lettuce or worms in my cherries do put me off a bit and tend to go back. What’s worst than finding a worm in your apple – finding half (get it – it’s a joke). Plus you don’t want to find a plastic or metal object in your dinner – like a chunk of fridge tray – managers need to know about that one. I once found a very large thumb nail in a burger – I was in Nigeria my parents lived on a Shell camp, I was only 15 and was a tad grossed out – but I didn’t complain, I just never ordered another.

Springy mushrooms & overcooked eggs – when mushrooms are about a zillion years old and have been kicking around in the bottom of the fridge since a year last Thursday they turn in to dried out marshmallow vileness – even if the chef gives them mouth to mouth resuscitation by way of cooking in lots of oil or sauce, it’s still a disgusting old dried out fungus. An egg has been lovingly laid by a chicken, pushed out of her orifice in relaxation and chilled out hen time – it is a thing of beauty, a perfectly formed yolk surrounded by clear goodness all held together in a hard gorgeously shaped shell. The egg is a thing of science and biology – it needs to be cooked with love and knowledge. At home we can abuse such an egg with a blast in the microwave but if in a place of reputation you hear a ‘ping’ after ordering say an omelette – RUN, run as fast as you can and don’t stop until you pass Go – instead stop somewhere who has a chef who gives a  “_hit” Egg yolks should be runny if asked, soft boiled should be just cooked with runny gold in the middle – perfect for a soldier to dunk his head in. An omelette should not bounce of the wall – I repeat an omelette should not bounce of the wall.

So basically we really shouldn’t tolerate bad food served to us in restaurants, cafes and the like – food we have paid good money for, bad food needs to be taken back and replaced in a nice polite constructive way.

Don’t get me wrong I maybe only send one dish back a year and maybe comment constructively on a couple more, after all I’m a realist not a ‘moaning murtle’.

Just in the same way good food should be adored and celebrated, pass the compliments to the chef, snog the waiter and tell him how marvellous everything was, rejoice to the owner about all the good stuff and big it up on trip advisor so everyone can behold the coming of the good place to eat.

It’s just that one bad day in a 100 that cafes sometimes get or the chef didn’t turn up for work today so the owners 6-year-old son stepped in or the every so occasional ‘everything broke down in the kitchen day’ – – most of the time all’s great in the world but just sometimes I’m intolerant!!!!! Always in a nice way, very polite way, hope they won’t be offended way, don’t want to upset anyone way, smile and show my teeth way – after all I am very British & after all I am a chef who ever so occasionally makes mistakes – ping!