For years, I’ve been losing weight over Christmas. Sometimes because of flu, but mostly because of the dire Christmas food that is served at Christmas lunches & dinners in both Britain and Germany. Not only is the vegetarian option exceptionally bad, but the food for carnivores as well. The only acceptable or outstanding item on the menu tends to be the dessert – and that isn’t even homemade most of the time! It always makes me furious that you pay lots of money for food that any school canteen can prepare in a tastier manner!
The worst point is the use of tinned or frozen vegetables. I wouldn’t even use these at home! And shouldn’t a restaurant sell better food than the average home grub? Might be a novel concept for some. The only vegetable that freezes successfully is peas. Everything else turns into an unappetising, rubbery, smelly substance – the worst kind of frozen vegetable is Brussels Sprouts. Who ever thought of freezing a vegetable whose taste is known to approach that of horse shit once it’s been exposed to frost! The only vegetable that survives okay in tins is the tomato. Forget everything else. Even beans! I know that some restaurants buy this stuff because they can store it better, but it’s still just plain wrong! Pepole should be employed as cooks and not just re-heaters! At my last workplace I had to literally fight for the re-introduction of fresh vegetables. It’s not only tastier, but cheaper and more environmentally friendly (less rubbish), plus you can re-use the vegetable water, if you cook well, for soups and gravies.
Second worst point is overcooking. I assume that most Christmas lunch food is kept warm/too hot until the guests arrive & until it’s either dried out and/or mushy. The meat or fish usually needs to be overcooked by law (health & safety regulations), so it cannot just be blamed on the cook. But again, I expect of a place that calls itself a restaurant that they at least get their timing right to a bearable degree! If you can’t do it, ask a Chinese colleague. They tend to have it down!
Third worst point is the use of ready-made spice mixes and sauces. Some cooks don’t seem to know that it is possible to make a gravy without Bisto. Or a soup without Oxo, if it doesn’t come straight from the tin. Although stock cubes are not too bad. What is bad is the alarming reintroduction of reconstituted egg. Hello? The only place for reconstituted egg is in warzone canteens! That’s what it got invented for: the army! If you don’t have to use it due to need – don’t!
My pet hate is, however, what is offered to vegetarians and vegans. Just because you want to be nice to the planet, to animals or just to yourself you get punished to no end. No wonder we have so few converts! For the past five years I’ve had to eat unappetising sub-Greggs standard pasties (beware of the dreaded ‘Wellingtons’) which contained some recycled ‘trimmings’ bound together by the aforementioned Bisto horror. The obligatory tomato soup starter regularly gets recycled as a sauce for the pastry. Thanksalot! I should get paid to eat this, not pay for it! Whatever happened to the good old nut roast? What about a quorn ragout?
In Germany, for the tenth year in a row, I’m spotting pasta with creamy sauce on the menu. Pasta as an alternative to a proper Christmas dinner? You gotta be kidding! At least make something German such as herbed pan cakes with mushrooms, vegetarian maultaschen soup or a vegetarian schnitzel. The latter can even be served with the regular trimmings. It really ain’t that hard!