- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 319 KB
- Print Length: 59 pages
- Publisher: Penguin (1 Feb. 2012)
- Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
- Language: English
- ASIN: B006X2BHL0
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Average Customer Review: 28 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #94,641 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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The Unbearable Lightness of Being a Prawn Cracker: A Selection of Real Meals (Penguin Specials) Kindle Edition
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Top customer reviews
That the whole is written by Will Self is an added bonus, though the Self emerging, sated, from the pages of this gem is a different and rather more approachable one than the intimidating though still vastly thought provoking one of Umbrella or Shark.
A good read, though like all fast food, it's over before you've really begun.
Initially it was everything I expected; the review of McDonalds seemed to be particularly sneering and written with the purpose of insulting the people who eat there. However, about halfway through I found myself warming to his sense of humour and there were essays that I found genuinely amusing. I loved the image of sticky rice that `could have been loaded into a mastic gun' and his feelings about Chinese food being so comforting that it's as if he was `thrusting my head between the great warm dumplings of an ancestral mother spirit.'
I may not be ready to endure a whole novel just yet, but this short collection of reviews was very enjoyable!
Author Will Self, however, is arguing that perhaps too much value is being placed on WHO is cooking what and WHERE it is being served. Or a little common sense and a little less "snob" value. Self has been reviewing restaurants for several publications over time and, as he says "I never really wanted to review food anyway; what interested me were fancy restaurants as a theatrical experience: the bourgeoisie ogling itself in a mirrored booth. Perhaps now, at last, the time is ripe for a little deflation and maybe we should all start paying attention to what's actually on the end of our plastic forks, not Nigella, Marco-Pierre, F***ing Gordon - and all the other celebrity egg-flippers. It's in this, more grounded, spirit that I undertake to survey the actual establishments where we eat, and the real meals they serve: only a fraction of the population will ever nosh in La Tante Claire, whereas, at current sales levels, the 1,154 McDonald's in Britain could serve a meal to every man, woman and child in the country given a mere thirty-five days."
This book is the curated highlights of his New Statesman magazine "Real Meals" column and it does feel like one of those books you can read and read again. A great book to take onboard an aeroplane, for example, and yes, airline food also comes under the spotlight! The standard of catering aboard British trains, however, has failed to arrive. Many chain restaurants that are found in England and some favourite English foods come under the critical Self spotlight, yet a lot of the same comments ring quite true for other foreign outposts of the same brand.
McDonald's, KFC, Pizza Express, Belgo and the Aberdeen Angus Steak House are amongst the restaurants subjected to critical, acerbic review whilst "holy" foods such as Chicken Tikka Masala, Kebabs, Pie and Mash and Bird's Eye frozen foods are piled onto the Self plate and expertly dissected. When reading Self's comments about many of the larger chains, one can identify similarities between them and other unnamed chains that operate both in the UK and overseas.
Naturally, whilst being an Anglocentric book, one need not be British or planning to eat (or not) in one of the named establishments or specified foods. The quality of Self's observations, comments and thoughts make this a great lightweight read as well as, perhaps, a more cryptic, critical, analytical tome, for those more closely-involved in the food business. This is not a "bash the rich" type book but perhaps, a candid acceptance that the majority of people don't have exclusive access to the so-called top restaurants. For those who never can go, or don't want to go to a Michelin-starred restaurant, perhaps McDonald's or a "high street" chain serve, in fact, the food they want and enjoy in surroundings that they feel comfortable in and prefer. Personal choice, after all, means why take a fish out of water.
To borrow a current McDonald's slogan, I'm Lovin' It. The character of Oliver Twist can say it better than YUM's reviewer too: "Please Sir, Can I have Some More?"
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