Well, there’s big news in this neck of the woods, and it’s about Jamie Oliver. He’s big news indeed in The City of Onkaparinga, South Australia.
Let me start by saying I love Jamie Oliver. Right back to The Naked Chef, I’ve enjoyed all his programmes. Jamie at Home is a favourite, and it must be said that The Devotea Homemade Hot Chocolate that we serve at some markets owes an awful lot to his Christmas Special recipe.
He’s a brilliant ambassador for good food and has made massive strides toward improving the food at schools across the globe.
Sure, I find some of his programmes a little basic. Take 30 Minute Meals. If you can cook, you can automatically make a great meal in 30 minutes. If you can’t, you’ll spend 29 of those minutes trying to find the right-sized pan and wondering if buckwheat is different to polenta. I have about 100 cookbooks – people love to buy them for me – and I think the one time I have actually used one in the last two years it was Jamie’s British Menu.
In my 2007 book “1001 Nights in the Trans-Arabian Corporations Boardroom”, I wrote a short story inspired by something Jamie said. In the story, at an international Egg and Chips cooking contest in the future, all the chips are grown in test tubes. No-one knows what a potato is. The winner pulls a master stroke in making a chip out of an actual potato.
Directly inspired by Jamie.
So, I’m a fan. I’d like to shake his hand. I’d like to invite him ’round for dinner with us. I think the Queen should knight him. “Go Jamie!” etc.
Our local shopping centre has been chosen to host a pop-up version for one year of Jamie’s Ministry of Food. And the self-congratulation has started.
We’ve been chosen from 170 applications around Australia. According to the gushing of our local dignitaries, it’s because we have great local produce and the local shopping centre management offered free premises.
So, let’s look at that.
Yes, we do have great local produce. Yes, the local shopping centre is large and has been rarely fully tenanted since a major makeover a few years back. But I’m sure of the 170 applications, approximately 170 offered free digs.
What it comes down to is that: have any of these guys actually seen “Ministry of Food” on TV?
We’ve not been chosen because of these reasons at all. We’ve been chosen because they have data explaining that we are a bunch of idiots who can’t cook.
Ministry of Food is never sited near a picturesque Greek village where the locals spend all day making wonderful dishes. It’s never sited in the middle of a fine dining district. It’s sited where the clueless idiots are.
Listen, Jamie, I’m on your side. Get out there and educate the uneducated masses. Open a swag of ‘Fifteen’ restaurants, one of the best social initiatives ever.
But not Ministry of Food here! If anyone here in our district needs to be told that spinach is better for you than takeaway yiros; that reheating a frozen lasagne is just rubbish, that a pie and a six pack is not a seven-course meal, then it’s not because they don’t have the information. It’s because they don’t want to hear it.
Damn you, Jamie Oliver, you’ve conspired with our local council to promote our community’s stupidity, in order to get more traffic at the local shopping centre. There are a zillion places more needy.
I know that part of it was the City of Onkaparinga convincing you we can all barely operate a can opener and spoon shop-brand tomato soup substitute into a microwave-friendly bowl, but to be honest, given some of their decisions, you can trust their judgement like you’d trust a paper rowboat. One look at their unreadable logo and signage should tell you that.
So, it’s got my dander up. I’ve got a good mind to counter this by moving to Essex and opening a tea shop. Last time I was there the local were using teab*gs. It’s about time someone showed them the loose leaf light.
I wonder if I can get a free shop? The Devotea’s Ministry of Tea. Coming to a town near you.
And believe me, it’s pukka.