I recently flew home for the weekend to watch my beloved Arsenal defeat Liverpool in The F.A cup. When I left the Emirates Stadium I was elated, yet starving. The pubs around North London were soon filling up with Arsenal fans celebrating the victory. I didn’t want to lose my buzz by sitting down for a meal so I went in search of a quick burger while my mates went to queue up at a bustling bar.
I knew I didn’t have much time until my pint would be flat so I began desperately scanning the streets until I finally came across a grill house. The cheapest burger cost around a tenner, but I was so hungry I reticently handed over all the shrapnel in my pocket.
I was scandalized then to discover that the server had no intention to accompany my burger with chips. This is outrageous I thought, if I’m departing with ten of my finest English pounds in exchange for a burger it’s not too much to expect them to throw a few chips in there to sweeten the deal.
When the burger arrived I have to say that it looked fairly consistent with many others burgers I’ve enjoyed in the past except for the fact that it had a wooden skewer of sorts staked through the middle, which apparently promotes your everyday burger to ‘artisan’ status.
I thought he may well have made a mistake so I asked him about the chips, to which he merely handed me a menu, and there they were: hand cut chips, fries 4.75. In what world does the fact that these chips have been cut by hand a) improve them b) justify the inflated price.
Although poncey, adding adjectives to ‘prole food’ is now relatively commonplace, but this hand cut fries business is just too much. Honey cured meat I understand, but in what way am I supposed to feel better about the hand cut fries knowing that one of the restaurants employees has had to sit stooped over a stool, peeling and cutting potatoes in the cold murky water of a swill bucket? In what way am I supposed to feel better about a human performing a pre-industrial task again and again, when I know that a machine could do the job equally competently?
They’re everywhere, hand cut, hand picked, hand selected. Maybe I’ve got it all wrong though; maybe it’s a ploy which affords consumers the opportunity to feel subliminally sanctimonious about the fact that someone, somewhere has had to perform a miserable task so that they can have their hand cut fries.
Why not just be honest about the whole thing then? The next time I order hand cut chips I’m going to demand that the poor soul whose had to cut them by hand for me, come from behind the counter and sit there explaining the entire procedure to me while I stuff hot fries down my gob. I only got about eight chips so it wouldn’t take too long.