Duck-it List: Episode ONE

Things I will not eat

The world is not my oyster

By way of a brief introduction these are things that form part of my Duck-it list: Things I plan never to do in my lifetime; some of which I have never done, marked (V) for Virgin; and some that I have tried and vow never to try again, marked (NA) for Never Again.

The full rationale behind the list is given in another of my blogs named “Get One Over on The Grim Reaper”.

So, on with the show…

OK, I have Veggie tendencies, but…

I should explain at the outset that I am not a vegetarian. I just generally do not like the taste of meat, or its texture come to think of it. This does not cover all meat and is not based on any particular principle or moral approach. When I have the choice, I would generally rather eat vegetable dishes than meat dishes and usually do.

Given this, I do not personally subscribe to the concept of “pretend” meat products. The sort of meat-free ham slices, or not-bacon rashers, or worst of all mock chicken pieces are simply not for me, but each to their own, and these are my own Duck-Its.

OYSTERS (V): Open up them Pearly Gates – but not for me

This one is fairly easy for me. Every day that passes where I don’t eat Oysters or other similar sea-muck is a result for me. The same applies to all raw fish, most oily fish, in fact pretty much any fish with the exception of fresh filleted haddock (with its skin removed, encased in a decent amount of crispy batter accompanied with plenty of salt and copious volumes of malt vinegar). I am perfectly happy to live the rest of my days without the dubious pleasure of any other sea foods.

I read a research paper recently, following a taster in The New Scientist, where it set out the results of a pretty extensive study in Iceland that showed that the ability/disability to smell something awful in fish was genetic. So, there are good reasons for us not all being the same. I would add however, that the tendency to detect a rank element in the smell of fish was linked to the ability to detect the smell of decaying flesh, faeces, and other things of an unpleasant nature. This did not surprise me, but I was shocked by the revelation that outlying individuals in the study described the decaying elements of rotting fish odours as “Caramel” and “Rose”. Note to self: Do not take sweets from fish-loving strangers or visit their gardens.

Once, in my thirties, I decided that my prejudice against sea food should be challenged and boldly set out to try some cockles in a pub. These were regular fare on a Friday evening and came highly recommended by a friend. Just by way of confirmation, he bought, ate, and apparently enjoyed, some of the same. For the wisely uninitiated, cockles are described by the BBC Food guide as “small, heart-shaped shells containing a small, delicate morsel of flesh that can be eaten raw, steamed or boiled. A member of the clam family, although cockles may seem like a lot of work for little return, they have a delicious salty flavour that needs to be treated gently.

What a load of barnacles!

They were disgusting little globs of chewy gunk tasting of salty fishiness and once they hit my teeth and taste buds, they had absolutely no chance of going any further. Out they went into a handy napkin, thoughtfully provided by the vendor.

“You’ll like them, they don’t taste a bit like fish”.

Yes, returning to oysters: Don’t tell me that they taste of the sea. I don’t want to consume things that taste of sewage, condoms, mud, silt, washed up micro-plastic particles, flotsam and jetsam, etc; or that I can let slip down my gullet without tasting at all. The concept disgusts me.

Anyway, who would want to eat something that is recommended to you as not tasting a bit like what it is?

DEFINABLE OFFAL (NA): Let’s get to the guts of the matter

Now this is where I vent my spleen!

My formative years involved having stuff such as Liver and Kidneys put on a plate under false pretences. Both at home and at school, adults made out that this stuff was food!

I was never fooled. The smell in the school dining hall when Liver was on the menu, could not be hidden even by the smell of bacon and onions. In spite of this obvious disguise, about as effective as a false Groucho Marx nose, moustache and glasses set, the whole place reeked of the odious muck. I cannot claim this as a Virgin Duck-it item, but I have not eaten “definable” liver or kidneys since I was a child and I intend to maintain this stance until I die.

Picking up on kidneys: these were much more insidious; they would sneak into a steak pie in the hope of not being discovered. It was only when a burst of urine flavour blossomed in the mouth of this particular child that I realised I had been deliberately misled. Who, in their right mind, would consider eating anything that tasted like this? Having been roundly chastised for spitting out the truly disgusting urinary globule, I found out what it was and what its function was. Even at a tender age, I was able to make some kind of connection between function and flavour. Eat kidneys? You must be taking the piss!

From these days on, I became more and more suspicious of anything related to innards, or connective tissue, or blood, or brains, or heart, or lung-linings, ugh!

These bits were given all sorts of strange names in order to hide the fact that many of them were just guts or suchlike. Brawn, Chitterlings, Faggots, Tripe, Sweetbreads, Pates, Giblets, Melts, Lights, and so on.

I noticed that culinary disguises have improved over the years and that spices are now the offal vendors first line of defence against adverse gut reactions.

Basically, if innards are ground up, coloured, and highly spiced, who can tell what they are?

I still eat various salamis, chorizos, and other sausages, but not without a good degree of squeamishness (and often tabasco or brown sauce). Many of the commercial British Bangers carry the tang of liver about them and I give these a wide berth.

Come to think of it, Squeamishness was the only thing I ever got a good degree in, but that’s another story.

Essentially, if it makes me aware that it comes from offal as I am about to eat it, then it is destined for the bin rather than my insides and that’s that.

Stews, Meat Puddings and Hotpots (NA): Slime doesn’t pay!

As far as I’m concerned stews, meat puddings and hotpots all have a tendency to meaty sloppiness that I find as attractive as the hidden delights of a U-bend!

You can’t tell what’s in them, they tend to slop about with a degree of sliminess that beggars belief and far too often harbour chunks of unchewable and indistinct meatish products in a sea of gravy.

Sometimes, to add insult to injury, an insidious kidney will make an appearance, and aficionados try to hide the contents under some kind of crusty icebergs called dumplings. These too have a rather slimy bottom gained from dangling their undersides in the evil depths beneath.

Not for me buddy!

I’ll happily go to my grave without another morsel of such stuff passing through my own set of internal organs and regard every “passing” day as a success in this regard.

“Meat” or Chicken Curries (NA)

I really love curries. The range is amazing; the flavours can be astonishing; however, the quality is unfortunately highly variable.

I have not eaten any meat-based curry for maybe forty years, but I certainly don’t feel the need, or that I am missing out in any way.

This applies equally to Indian, Thai, and Chinese style curries: Indeed, my kids were almost convinced that I had a dish named after me in our local Chinese Take-away namely Curried Mick’s Vegetables.

I do, however, experience the “joy” of various, meat-based curries vicariously, as my wife’s dishes of choice usually involve lamb. I find that any maltreatment of vegetables pales into insignificance beside the terrors that can be inflicted on an unsuspecting lamb eater. “Tough as old boots”, “stringy as hell”, “terribly chewy”, “huge lumps of meat or gristle”, etc, are not things I have to put up with directly.

Incidentally, it seems very strange to me that there are still some places that think they can get away with describing dishes as containing meat, rather than, lamb, pork, horse, donkey, yak, or whatever, but I still come across them from time to time. I suppose there might be an underlying assumption that “Meat” is lamb, but these days who knows?

I am reminded of a time at The Charing Cross Hotel in London when I was looking at the lunch menu which had a number of quite specific meat dishes listed with brief descriptions of each. I didn’t really fancy any of these, but spotted an item, lurking near the bottom, that said Vegetarian Option. That’s it. Nothing else. Just Vegetarian Option.

This piqued my interest, so I asked the waiter what the Vegetarian Option was. The young woman was nonplussed. After a few moments, a light went on and she said ” It’s the Vegetarian Option”. when I explained that I already knew this but wondered exactly what it was, she set off to find out. I think it turned out to be some undistinguished sort of pasta dish, but it was decent enough.

I am only rambling on about this because I am missing the opportunity to get out much, especially under lockdown conditions when I’m stuck indoors. Sorry.

However, I’m fairly confident that I won’t be eating any meat, fish or poultry-based “Indian” food in the foreseeable future. Maybe not quite “Over my Dead Body” but pretty close.

Donor Kebab (V)

I am pleased to say that I have never been in the least bit interested in even tasting a Donor Kebab and I intend to keep it that way.

The idea of a great inverted cone of grey meat of dubious origin (maybe even surviving from The 19th Century Ottoman Empire) being partly cooked through by some hit and miss practitioner and then being stuffed in some kind of sandwich along with bits of rancid salad does not really set my senses on fire.

I imagine there must be thoroughly reputable Donor kebab outfits scattered all over the country; there certainly are the discarded contents of donor kebabs scattered all over the London suburbs after the pubs have closed!

It’s just that, on the whole, Kebab joints (and I mean the outlets, not elbows, knees and the like) look so disreputable. They remind me of those Fish and Chip shops that specialise in everything: Fish, Chips, Pies, Saveloys, Kebabs, Pizza slices, Chicken wings, a few odd Chinese dishes, and a few Curries. I wonder at their amazing ability to be able to do so many things so well!

No, Donor kebabs have firmly deserved their place on my Duck-It list and there they will stay until my dying day.

Chew ‘n’ Spew (NA): or KFC is not for me

When I was one hell of a lot younger, I had a mate who coined this phrase. He used it to refer to most fast-food outlets but particularly to those involving Chicken. It was the heyday of That Great American wartime hero Colonel Sanders. I know he was a “made up” Colonel, but it didn’t stop him invading the UK with his Deep South Kentucky Army. Yep! KFC was the archetypal Chew and Spew as far as we were concerned. Let’s face it, anyone who serves lumps of chicken in large containers and calls them buckets, deserves the epithet.

So, while I have certainly eaten some fast food that qualifies under this category (hence the NA rating), I don’t think I have ever eaten one of the Colonels Southern Fried delights. I intend to keep it that way. He can keep his nuggets to himself.

I think I’ll stop here for now. I’m sure that other gruesome gristly items will come to mind as time goes by but I’ll settle for these big ticket items:

Mick’s food Duck-its

  1. Sea Food in general and Oysters in particular
  2. Anything that is obviously Offal, majoring on Liver and Kidneys
  3. Any meat or fish curries
  4. Donor kebabs wherever they come from
  5. Any fast food joint chicken bits of all kinds – from the deep south or the deep fat fryer, I don’t care!

You wouldn’t believe it, but my family call me picky!

UK Government Advice/ regulations for those living north of Watford :

TOUGH LUCK MATE

4 thoughts on “Duck-it List: Episode ONE

  1. Oh, how this all resonates with my own take on certain. “Delicacies”
    Oysters:
    In the spirit of “don’t knock it until you’ve tried it” well I’ve tried it and can happily announce that they are awful. The only thing I can liken them to are the lumps of winter phlegm that you cannot dislodge any other way than swallowing, with the added bonus of tasting vaguely of seawater.
    Lobster:
    The alarm bells started ringing when the usual array of eating tools was supplemented with equipment that looked more suitable for safe breaking. Following the lead of the more experienced diners I selected a piece of this prehistoric carcass and proceeded to smash my way in to the inner chamber where I was rewarded with a morsel of fish tasting chewing gum.
    I have other examples but you get the general idea. It’s a case of the emperor’s new clothes, just needs one voice to pipe up from the back of the room “but it tastes like shit”
    Seafood by default exists on a diet that is ultimately human waste in all it’s forms, yum yum !

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    1. Reminds me that my gran used to say “cough it up, it might be a gold watch!” Ugh! Your bravery deserves a medal. I guess the moral in terms of sea food is that they are what they eat.

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  2. I used to be quite partial to Oysters Kilkpatrick (and most other seafoods) – the main attraction being they’re cooked with the Worcestershire sauce, and bacon – but given the state of the ocean and ‘farmed’ creatures of all sorts, I’ve almost completely gone off the whole idea of seafood.
    … and as for offal? – nopenopenopenope.

    Liked by 1 person

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