Saturday, 18 February 2012

Let Them Eat Couscous!

I suspect this is a somewhat different story to the one about Liz Haughton’s The Park Café:
A change of menu at Stoke Newington's Clissold House café has started a row.

Claims that the manor house café had been taken over by the snooty and the "nouveau riche" came after traditional fare such as chips, beans and chocolate pudding were replaced by couscous and spiced nut salad, beetroot and seed cake, and £12.75 gnocchi with roast mushrooms.
It’s met with the same reaction from the locals, though, unsurprisingly enough:
Some customers were so angry they set up an action group on Facebook. One critic wrote: "It's a sad day for those of us who have lived in the area all our lives. Gone are the days when the café would provide basic and hearty food at decent prices."
But it’s not just because the management thinks this is the sort of thing that the residents should be eating, oh no.

In fact, it seems more as a push to get the right sort of residents through the doors:
The organic revamp has been overseen by Company of Cooks, which also runs Kenwood House in Hampstead.

The area has seen an influx of political and media types over recent years, with relative newcomers including Labour power couple Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper, comedian Stewart Lee and BBC news reader George Alagiah drawn in by its village feel.
Couscous eaters if ever I saw any…
Locals say the café should be a meeting place for the community and were angry when the council handed the contract to run it to Company of Cooks rather than a local outlet.
Oh, but I’m sure there’s no hidden agenda here. Or…is there?
Vicky Cahill of Company of Cooks told the Hackney Gazette that although the café had been "incredibly busy" since opening last month they were aware that not everyone was happy.

"We're listening to the many viewpoints about the type of food that people want to see available, and in no way see the opening menu as the final version."
It’ll just stay there until you ghastly little oiks have all found some greasy egg & chip dive to favour with your custom, ok?

8 comments:

The Stigler said...

I rather like couscous (and a lot of North African food), and couscous really shouldn't be expensive. In France it's a cheap food.

The main thing with councils is that they provide the things that THEY want. So you get opera, ballet, left-wing comedians and couscous subsidised. Often, this isn't deliberate, it's more that they are so out-of-touch with the people that they don't understand that they want rock bands, funny comedians and bacon rolls.

jaded said...

I love these trendy lefties who move into "vibrant" areas and try to change them.

It must be life-fulfilling being mugged by people from all over the globe outside their front-doors.

Very similar thing happens when I police the Notting Hill carnival.All the yuppies turn up during the day but as soon as it gets dark they are off like a shot.

Budvar said...

Couscous? The culinary equivalent of eating damp sawdust!! You can keep it.

I'm not a right lover of Arabic/N.African food, it's (to my mind) a bit too perfumey for my tastes. but hey, each to his own.

I do find much of the "Ethnic eating experience" does cater to the pretentious middle classes and is over priced muck.
I remember back in the early 80s a rash of Ethiopian (and similar) restaurants. Like you said though, 12 quid for a plate of millet or some other shite isn't really catering for the respective ex-pats.

Anonymous said...

'Vibrant' - Godawful word. 'CousCous' - Godawful shite.

Your final para is spot on. trendy fuckwits! Still A FAcebook protest page has been started up - that'll sort thin gs out, might need a Twatter campaign too. Zzzzzzz

dick the prick said...

If some daft numbnuts wants to pay £13 nicker for mushroom gnocchi then I really should open my kitchen - nowt much against it but you could turn a guest into Mr Creasote for a couple of quid and waste at least 20 minutes in prep. Same goes for cous-cous, this is peasant food masquerading as sophisticated. In short - blithering idiots. £13 quid - oh do shut up!

Hexe Froschbein said...

Couscous is poor folks' food, it's not posh at all.

It's just durum wheat pasta (think s'getti chopped up small) and the reason it's used in the ME and other poverty stricken places is that you don't have to boil it like pasta, just add hot water and you're ready to eat.

A definite plus in countries where fresh water is expensive and most cooking is done with fuel from gas bottles.

Regards the Clissold House cafe: yep, that used to be a cheap place to go and eat (albeit vegetarian, blech) and pricing out the locals from this rather nice location (gorgeous setting next to the park zoo with direct views of the pond) does not surprise me in the least, the only thing that does is that it took them so long to do it.

JuliaM said...

"...and couscous really shouldn't be expensive. In France it's a cheap food."

No, it shouldn't. As Hexe and Ranter point out, it's 'peasant food' (aren't a lot of culinary fads, at heart?).

"Very similar thing happens when I police the Notting Hill carnival.All the yuppies turn up during the day but as soon as it gets dark they are off like a shot."

'They mostly come out at night. Mostly...'

"I'm not a right lover of Arabic/N.African food, it's (to my mind) a bit too perfumey for my tastes. "

Me neither. Shish kebabs and other grilled meats, OK, but dates in my meat stew? No thanks!

andy said...

Their loss when it goes out of fashion and the luvvies all go to the new trendy place and the locals DONT come back.