I am as partial to a pizza as anyone, and the chain restaurant around the corner does a passable job, always recognising that it's a thousand or so miles from Naples. On a recent visit, the service was welcoming, the drinks arrived promptly, and the pizzas came properly crusty around the edges, with the cheese melting just as it should. But mine tasted of, well, nothing.You'll never guess why?
I twitched the minimalist vase with the one marigold, but salt pot there was none. Nor on any other table. Hailing the waitress, I began: "Look, I know I shouldn't, but could I possibly have some ..." – she interrupted me – "salt?" A rather battered wooden salt mill was surreptitiously produced and handed over rather in the manner of a black-market transaction in Ceaucescu's Romania.Bit pointless - if something's been cooked without salt, you can't just put it back in by sprinkling it on top. All that's going to do is make you thirsty...
Apparently, the chain has stopped putting salt in its pizzas; just stopped, in the name of the nation's health. Which is where you want to ask whether anyone in mass catering is actually allowed to rate taste as a selling point any more...Doubtful. And certainly the public sector has swallowed that lesson whole; a friend informs me that in her civil service canteen, three huge block posters adorn the walls - 'Green', they shout, and 'Healthy', and 'Sustainable'.
'Tasty', you ask? Apparently, not a concern...
It's accepted that too much salt contributes to high blood pressure...Is that in the same way it's 'accepted' that there are set levels of alcohol units that one shouldn't overindulge in, even though they are just finger-in-the-wind guesswork?
But it seems Mary doesn't really understand the people behind this at all:Why, yes! Point at them, and hope they'll leave you alone. What could possibly go wrong?
"Fat-free" never took on quite the same prescriptive proportions in Britain as it did on the other side of the Atlantic. But that doesn't mean that sugar, given the renowned British sweet tooth and the hidden sweeteners in many processed foods and soft drinks, is much less of a problem. So here's a new cause for the food police – and it's one, as an anti-social chocophobe, I might even join.