Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Piccalilli Circus

JonnyB has met yet another moral dilemma, and succumbed which his usual lightning speed. Good show that man - a modern Oscar Wilde, except for the latter's exquisite command of the English Language. Also, Oscar succumbed to buttocks, whereas Jonny seems to have stumbled at the obstacle of breasts. Turkey breasts. Factory farmed turkey breasts at that.

It is a tribute to the advances of the modern age that his admission has been greeted with all the same disgust that Oscar's little indiscretion met a century ago. Perhaps next time he should just bugger a turkey instead of buying one. But only a free range turkey, natch.

Yet I come away from with tears in my eyes, not in sympathy with the turkey in that last sentence, but because of one innocent little word in Jonny's post - piccalilli. Lumps of crispy vegetable entombed in jars of thick, vomit-yellow mustard-and-vinegar pickle. Only the English could have invented such a thing. And only the English could have had the effrontery to blame it on the Indians.

I haven't seen or tasted piccalilli in years. When I was a kid of around seven or eight, I was judged just old enough to be trusted to come home from school on my own. A twenty minute walk through the shittiest part of London's East End, at the end of which I'd let myself into the house and amuse myself until my mum got home from work. It occurs to me now that I was a latchkey kid. I dare say I should've been out mugging someone, but those were simpler times - oil shocks, power cuts, bread rationing, three-day weeks, and a fortnight in '74 when there were troops billeted in our school and most others nearby for reasons no-one seemed inclined to explain.

Anyway, the first thing I'd do, every evening, would be to grab some bread and cheese, make a sandwich, and slather it with piccalilli. Then I'd go watch Hawaii Five-Oh until the power cuts started. That piccalilli brought tears to my eyes then, I remember.

To my surprise I find that it still does.

Some piccalilli yesterday. Yummy!


Universal Soldier said...

And did it have bits of vegetable of undeterminable origin in it?

Ivan the Terrible said...

If you can guess the vegetable better than two times out of three, it's not piccalilli in my book...

Dave Heasman said...

"a fortnight in '74 when there were troops billeted in our school and most others nearby for reasons no-one seemed inclined to explain. "

I was alive in 1974 and open to any number of conspiracy theories and slanders against the grocer, but this mobilisation completely passed me by. Did you ever find out what it was all about? The IRA threat to the Brick Lane Bengali D-I-Y slaughterhouse?

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