Tuesday, April 20, 2010

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Standing in for Harry

While Harry Hill's TV Burp is off the air I thought it was only right that someone should pick up the batten.

With that in mind, has anyone else noticed the uncanny resemblance between the psychopathic, possessed, Good Guy doll Chucky from Child's Play and Molly Dobbs from Coronation Street?

In fact I think I'd be more scared if I bumped into Molly down a dark alleyway.

...and to think some people use their blogs to promote good causes and discuss critical issues of the day. What's that all about? Pfft.

Monday, April 19, 2010

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Derailing the gravy train

MSG sensitive people such as migraine sufferers are all too aware that gravy is dangerous territory because it nearly always contains E621, otherwise known as monosodium glutamate. Gravy and stock manufacturers know you know this and so have to conjure up new and inventive ways to force feed it to you without your knowledge.

Bisto may well be the "nation's favourite gravy" and I'm sure their dedication to "making your meal a success" is second to none, but this doesn't preclude it from being full of crap. Nevertheless, at least they admit to this on the packet. Other companies aren't so up front. They'll cheerily trumpet that their gravy is "free from artificial flavours and additives" despite containing MSG in one guise or another, and they can get away with it scot-free because, technically it's true. MSG is merely a crystalline salt - a chemical extraction if you like - of glutamic acid; a naturally occurring amino acid found in many untampered-with foods including certain cheeses, peas, tomatoes and corn. Natural or not, overdosing on the stuff isn't going to be a pleasant experience if it's one of your migraine triggers.

So how do you inform people that your product contains MSG without setting off any alarm bells? Call it something else, that's how. In effect you'll see super-wholesome ingredient lists "free of artificial additives" which feature 'natural flavouring', 'yeast extract' or 'hydrolysed/autolysed protein'. Yeast extract is free glutamic acid released from yeast cells through fermentation, while hydrolysed or autolysed protein is created by chemically breaking down cereals or legumes into their constituent amino acids, including free glutamic acid.

Strangely enough all these homely, warm and fuzzy techniques serve to artificially enhance the flavour of bland food by bombarding the brain's receptors with excitotoxins capable of damaging or destroying its neurones. Nothing like MSG then. Bottoms up!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

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Would you like a gastric band with that?

I've often wondered why people continue to eat the chemical cocktails that pass for food these days when their contents are brazenly confessed on the packet. Having watched the first few episodes of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, I have my answer.

Jamie's goal is to take the hillbilly backwater that is Huntington, West Virginia - statistically the fattest state in the US - and squeeze it under a microcosmic magnifying glass to highlight the way in which parents and the government are colluding to kill their kids with junk food.

In one scene, a junior school dinner lady tries to justify the coronary-inducing slop she is preparing for lunch. She flips over a box of chicken patties, glances at the ingredients list and declares it perfectly acceptable because the first item listed is 'chicken'. Never mind the other three dozen unpronounceable fillers, additives, flavour enhancers and preservatives below this in the line up. I'm sure these could include excrement or cyanide and still get the all clear from these clueless poison peddlers.

Clearly wasting his breath on the adults, an exasperated Jamie turns his attention to the kids. In a last ditch attempt to convince them to change their eating habits he whips out the big guns; his what's-in-a-chicken-nugget demo. Apparently this silver bullet induces spontaneous convulsions in British kids so is sure to do the trick. Before their eyes he blends up the picked-clean carcass of a chicken along with its connective tissue and throws in some artificial flavour for good measure, coats the vile, pink sludge in bread crumbs and then dares, "now who wants nuggets for lunch?". To my horror some hands from the audience still shoot up in the air without a moment's pause. It seems you can make anything taste palatable if you deep fry it in enough golden brown grease.

We catch up with the school 'cooks' again following the publishing of a newspaper article accusing Jamie of branding them stupid and ignorant. His comments were twisted for dramatic effect, nevertheless they seem genuinely shocked and baffled by the suggestion. This coming from grown adults who routinely serve the kids in their care pizza for breakfast and nitpick at the nutritional value of Jamie's alternative meals.

In another episode we meet 16 year old Brittany who is so obese, doctors have told her she's likely to be 6 feet under in 5-7 years as a result of the spots on her liver caused through binge eating. The threat of death looming over her like a black cloud apparently hasn't been enough to motivate her to exercise or go on a diet, yet now there's 5 minutes of fame at stake, she's prepared to take her health seriously.

I suppose the take-away (pun intended) lesson is that eating colossal dollops of saturated fat on a bun for breakfast, lunch and tea makes you morbidly obese. See, watching TV can be educational.