Friday, 1 November 2013

Friday Five: Killer Vegetables

Because yesterday was Halloween and lots of people were doubtless carving Jack o'lanterns, it  made me reflective on the nature of pumpkins. I love pumpkin - in spicy coconut type soups, in rich tomato stews or roasted with the parsnips and potatoes to accompany a joint. I've never been a huge fan of pumpkin pie but that's part of my dislike of mixing savoury and sweet. There are some wonderful pumpkin ales that I look forward to seeing on the market in autumn, but that's a post for another time. (Autumn, perhaps.)

But I hate chopping it. I even consider buying it pre-chopped from the supermarket, although I never acually have because that seems to me be the height of laziness, along with pre-grated cheese or pre-peeled oranges - they sell those in Marks and Spencer. Well, I am vindicated, because it turns out that pumpkins are top of the dangerous vegetable list  yes, there is one. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) tens of thousands of people every year are admitted to hospital with injuies inflicted from trying to chop pumpkin, and root vegetables are responsible for two-thirds of kitchen injuries.

Advice to avoid such injuries includes the ostensible paradox of having sharp knives, and choosing a vegetable peeler for the task where appropriate. Chopping your vegetables too fast is also hazardous admonishes the survey of more than two thousand customers carried out by an on-line takeaway service (slightly biased motives, anyone?). Two fifths of the participans confessed they had injured themselves by trying to imitate the methods of the TV chefs.

5 Most Dangerous Vegetables:
  1. Pumpkin - I agree with RoSPA - tasty but dangerous (a bit like Christopher Eccleston)
  2. Onion - I don't suppose it helps that they make me cry so I have to close my eyes while cutting them up
  3. Beetroot - they stain everything, and if you forget that you've eaten it, the next time you go to the toilet will be terrifying
  4. Artichokes - the social embarrassment of not knowing what to do with it can be crippling
  5. Leeks - one was thrown at Ashley Cole in a Wales v England match in 2011 (what an original insult) and Fluellen beats Pistol up with one and then forces him to eat it in Henry V. Depending on how badly this is taught in schools, it can poison children against Shakespeare for life. 

Thursday, 31 October 2013


A sketch of her cat, Cort, by Sarah Morrissey
Today I learned another totally useless but mildly interesting fact - why yes, I do collect them. Apparently 45% of people lick the lid of their yoghurt pot. 10% of people in the survey said they didn't eat yoghurt. This leaves a whopping 45% of people who don't lick the lid. Who are these people? And why?

I can only assume that they are of the 'younger generation' who don't buy their own groceries and are therefore quite content to waste someone else's money on uneaten dairy product. I also assume that their parents have not lived through an era of rationing so they have never received the lecture on the sin of food waste. Nor have they ever had the one about starving children in Africa. Or they simply have no shame.

Of course, I'm talking individual yoghurts here, not the big family-sized one, as that would be unhealthy and a bit odd. The only reason I can see for not licking the lid is because they used to be made of tin foil and if you tore that and then licked it you could cut your tongue. Hands up who's done that? Just me, then. Well, most of them now are that plastic sort of substance and it's very difficult to cause yourself a mischief with that.

I'm not sure that I know a single person who belongs to the non-lid-licking 45%. Even my cat licks the lid, and the empty pot for that matter, and he gets his little face stuck in there which is quite funny but he won't thank me for sharing that with you. So, if you are one of these mystery container top abstainers, could you please explain your reasoning? I'd really like to know.