Thursday 30 October 2014

More Fish Fingers

So I'm reading through PK's most recent post and it occurs to me that even by PK's standards it is so flagrantly deficient in its reasoning, I must say something in reply. Which is

1) The traditional accompaniment (to use a PK term) for fish fingers and tinned baked beans never was water, but is instead a cup of tea and a slice, and quiet cig. Also a copy of the Daily Mirror to hand, or a half-completed pools coupon. A light ale is okay if that's the way things are going. The Breakfast of Champions, whatever the time of day, and nothing to stop him treating himself to exactly that. But

2) If you really really want to drink wine, then why not? You can drink wine with just about anything if you try hard enough. Cornflakes would be pushing it, and I don't think you can chew gum and drink wine at the same time, although I'm agnostic on that one. But fish fingers? What about a nice cool Loire red of some sort? Or a Beaujolais, ditto? Indeed, some thoughtful readers came up with their own suggestions, including a chenin blanc or a Valpolicella. I could go for any of those.

3) On the other hand - I know for a fact that there are at least four respectable food shops immediately outside PK's front door. There is nothing to stop him putting the fingers'n'beanz back into storage, nipping out for ten minutes and coming back with a chicken leg, a bag of salad and a nice bit of bread. Grill the chicken, do up the salad how you like it, open whatever bottle of non-confrontational wine you fancy, then, half an hour later, round the meal off with a fresh espresso (yes, he's got a classic espresso machine in the kitchen, and it works) and voilĂ ! A brasserie-style meal such you might get anywhere in provincial France and you don't even have to leave a tip. Come on PK! It's not as if Mrs. K has abandoned you, trembling and defenceless and unable to shape your own dinner destiny. Cruel fate has not decided to stand between you and a proper drink, cramming your cheeks in the meantime with fatty, sugary, pap. You are capable of looking after yourself, except -

4) You don't really want to. This is the real thing: if you are prepared to fill your mouth with cheap and horrible beanz'n'fish fingers, which you clearly are, why aren't you prepared to drink an equivalently cheap and horrible wine? There is no inner consistency. Your standards went out of the window the moment you voluntarily stuck the fish fingers under the grill, and so did any reason to complain. But no, the unstillable voice of the wine snob must make itself heard, and, as we all know, one of the great pleasures of snobbery is that it's rationally indefensible, that it actually makes life more, rather than less, difficult. The idea must prevail in your understanding of the world, rightly or wrongly, that wine is in a different class from all other foods and drinks; that it axiomatically deserves reverence; that it can only be seen in the company of proper food. Fatal! Wine is just another commodity, like potatoes or mince (that's the everyday meat people buy, they do it every day). There is plenty of good wine about, but there's a tonne more which is very ho-hum, and (I'm guessing, I'll level with you) an even larger amount which is only just drinkable, although God knows, it gets drunk. Wine is an alcoholic drink made from fermented grape juice which can be obtained in fancy, look-at-me bottles, unmarked plastic containers, and everything in between. That's all. And the more that wine snobs beat us about the head with the idea that we're betraying ourselves and the rest of wine-drinking mankind every time we blithely snap the cap on a bottle of who-cares cornershop white to go with our fish fingers, the more incensed I get. It's just stuff. Claiming that it isn't, that it's categorically different, only sets us further back on the path to understanding.

5) Any more ranting and I will start to sound like one of the many zealots at whom I rant. This is how international crises start. So it's time to say:



  1. Exactly! Any wine would lift a meal of fish fingers and beans from the gutter to the top of the kerbstone.

  2. "You can drink wine with just about anything if you try hard enough. Cornflakes would be pushing it..." Personally, a decent Sauternes, Barsac or Coteaux du Layon is gorgeous with cornflakes. The wine elevates the humble toasted corn to that of the haloed Crunchy Nut Cornflake. A bit more decadent than just purchasing a box of Crunchy Nut, still, nonetheless, is a wine pairing of merit.


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