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3.2 out of 5 stars6
3.2 out of 5 stars
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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.
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on 7 March 2009
How many books are described as 'laugh-out-loud funny'? And how many actually are? The last book that made me laugh out loud in public was 'The Dice Man', in 1987 - and then it was only once. But then I got hold of this little gem, and I was sniggering to and from work for days. There is a passage of comic genius on almost every page. I would include some examples here, but you really have to be late 30-something/early 40-something, and have spent most of your life in the U.K., to identify with the cringe-tastic foodstuffs of the author's childhood and his hilariously cynical brand of nostalgia. If you fit the demographics, give this book a try - you won't be disappointed!
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This book was first published as "Sausage in a Basket: The Great British Book of How Not to Eat" and attracted a lot of reviews. Many wanted to compare this to Nigel Slater's "Toast", but I think they have mis-understood what this book is. For the record, I loved Toast - it was a warm and affectionate tale of growing up with greed, but this is a wry, funny and sarcastic look at British food and associated activities. This is not supposed to be deep, it's supposed to be funny. And funny it often is. But it is a hard book to read straight through, but ideal for picking up and reading in chunks.

Previous reviews have been critical of the style, but the best way I would describe this is to imagine it being read by Jack Dee. A grumpy miserable look at our eating habits. For example if you find the following description of broccoli and stilton soup funny, then I suspect you will like the book. If you don't them avoid it!

"Eating broccoli and stilton soup is like licking curdled milk from a charity shop carpet"

But I enjoyed it (which probably says much about my sense of humour) and while it can be hit and miss, the hits were worth waiting for.
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on 20 February 2012
This book is an unbelievably tiresome and woefully unfunny tirade against just about every kind of food , British or otherwise. Dont get me wrong, I like "Grumpy old men" type humour as much as the next man but I found Martin Lampen's self-opinionated constant whining and "arent I just SO amusing" attitude to be unrelentingly boring and annoying. I stuck with it as far as page 24 then consigned it to the nearest charity shop bag. I paid 25p for this in a 2nd hand book shop in Hay on Wye. I was robbed. Laugh? I didnt even come close.. A complete waste of paper and ink.
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on 13 March 2016
Very good book
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on 30 September 2012
Got this at HMV in their Bargain Bucket for £1.00, as being a professional chef with 32 years experience, might find it a bit of a laugh with food from bygone days.
Flicked through some of it, and its the tired old formula of 'Grumpy Old Men'.......people like Geoffrey Palmer, Rick Wakeman and Arthur Smith can pull it off, but reading it from a nobody like Martin Lampen makes you realise he's either a failed writer for such programmes as Grumpy Old Men, OR fancies himself as a comedian food critic.
I had the impression that some of his 'reviews' were a Copy & Paste job from Trip Advisor.........whos reviews usually ARE funny in parts.
As it cost a quid, its no hardship, but trust me, its dire...really dire! I think the positive reviews came from his friends to be honest.
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