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From basket sausages to knickerbocker glories...
on 19 November 2009
A repackaged version of 'Sausage in A Basket', Martin Lampen presents many of the idiosyncrasies of eating in the UK. He isn't a food writer or a top chef, but that hasn't stopped him giving us his views on almost anything you can think of that is food related and consumed in the UK in the present or recent past.
There's quite a lot that Martin doesn't like - this is no celebration of British cuisine. Sometimes he makes a very valid point, as with the term 'pan-fried'. As he says, as opposed to fried using what receptacle?
There are things that he likes here too, particularly Knickerbocker Glories for boys aged 11-14, hence the title, but these are one man's very personal opinions and the nostalgia path has become a well-trodden one. Martin doesn't pull any punches though and his redeeming feature is that he can tell a story against himself very nicely. You might be a bit wary of befriending him though as many friends and acquaintances have made it in to the book as well and some of the stories about them have the air of pure unvarnished truth.
I liked the portrayal of his parents. I felt I got to know Martin's Irish dinner-lady mum and his ex-forces Dad. The story of his Dad stripping labels from almost countless tins for competitions yet never winning because he always used the same tired old chestnut of a slogan was an amusing one.
Not a classic like Toast but a bit of a curate's egg. Good in parts, making it a safe bet to dip in and out of without feeling that you must read on. On the whole, it's enjoyable.