The Result On A Plate? Making A Meal Of The UK General Election:

What are the key issues that will decide who will be Britain’s Prime Minister after May 7th? The future of the National Health Service (NHS) is certainly near or top of the list for most of the electorate. Other concerns revolve around immigration, the European Union, cuts in spending on welfare and defence and the influence the SNP (Scottish National Party) will exert over the next Parliament.

Many voters, however, will base their choice on what they perceive to be the personality of the two contenders to lead the country – David Cameron (Conservative) or Ed Miliband (Labour). As the leaders’ advisers are acutely aware, the way these two speak, what they wear, how comfortable they look both on TV and when in direct contact with the public, their taste in music, even their favourite food (and how they eat it) could have a significant impact on which one will win.

Gordon Brown (Labour Prime Minister 2007-2010) was derided when he claimed that the “Artic Monkeys” were his favourite pop group. His then Business Minister, Peter Mandelson, was mocked for having apparently mistaken “mushy peas” in a chip shop for “avocado dip guacamole”.

More recently, a photo was taken of Ed Miliband “struggling to appear normal” (The Daily Telegraph) while eating a “bacon sarnie” at a café in London’s New Covent Garden. On the BBC’s “Desert |Island Discs” programme, he confided that his “luxury item is a weekly chicken tikka masala from his local north London Indian takeaway”. That might not have been wise, as (according to an article in the Daily Mail based on a Food Network UK survey), this particular recipe has been replaced by Chinese stir-fry as Britain’s favourite dish.

When David Cameron invited some “Sun” journalists into his official residence at 10 Downing Street, he prepared his “speciality sandwiches” for them in just “a few seconds”. These consisted of sardines, tomatoes, lemon and “a dollop of mayonnaise”.Cameron’s hospitality might not have been completely unconnected with the fact that statistics published by the British Sandwich Association (BSA) have indicated that around 1,69 billion sandwiches are purchased in Britain each year. A large proportion of these are apparently consumed at the desks of the “43% of workers who don’t get a chance to have a lunch break”. Among the most popular fillings are, chicken & bacon, prawn mayonnaise, bacon lettuce & tomato, chicken salad, tuna, salmon, egg and beef. Moreover, an additional “eight billion sandwiches are made at home each year, which makes us the world leader in sandwich consumption and production”.

The BSA’s definition of what constitutes a sandwich (notes the Daily Mail) also includes baps (26.3 %), baguettes (8%), wraps (5%), paninis (2.2%), bagels (0.7%) and ciabattas (0.3%). The Liberal Democrat Leader, Nick Clegg, has informed listeners to his LBC Radio show that his favourite lunch is a “Swedish Meatball Hot Wrap” from Pret A Manger. This consists of pork meatballs, sliced Greve cheese, chilli tomato sauce and sliced red onions and contains 636 calories, 35g of fat and 3g of salt.  Despite a diet that “will keep him going during the long campaign slog”, opinion polls suggest that his party could lose half of its current parliamentary seats.

Nigel Farage, the UKIP (UK Independence Party) leader, is most frequently filmed & photographed holding a pint of beer. An indication of his culinary preferences is provided by the “UKIP Pie” currently on sale at The “Blacksmiths Arms” in Cudham, Kent: Ingredients: UK Beef, Welsh leeks, Irish potatoes, English ale, Kent carrots and Scottish turnips served with mashed potato and cabbage – but “definitely no Brussels sprouts”.

Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader and Scotland’s  “First Minister”, has admitted to the “Herald Scotland” newspaper that she can’t cook and that her husband, Peter Murrell, prepares the meals of spaghetti bolognese, steak & chips and curry in their household.  When interviewed on ITV’s “Good Morning Britain”, she also confirmed her love of Indian food. These revelations don’t appear to have in any way dented her immense popularity north of the Border – even though the Visit Scotland website promotes porridge, kippers, black pudding, haggis, clootie dumpling, stovies and lorn sausage as being among the country’s favourite traditional dishes . It doesn’t mention at all the rumour (perhaps maliciously spread by the English) that fried mars bars are regarded as a delicacy by the Scots.

 

 

 

Filed under: Politics | Posted on April 25th, 2015 by Colin D Gordon

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