RANTS & RANDOMS Uncategorized

My Food and Drink Confessions

Photo: Ewan Munro

It is part of my job to identify food trends – something I simultaneously love and loathe. I must visit the hot new restaurants, yet at the same time I enjoy spending time in old favourites, places I’ve been visiting for years, which feed the soul as well as the belly.

There’s a lot of talk among Food People about what should and shouldn’t be enjoyed. For example, one should apparently enjoy eating rare old clams that have been quietly minding their own biz for 200 years, but when it comes down to consuming them, perhaps you just don’t. Those links point to my mates’ reviews of a meal we ate at Noma that was 50% brilliant, 50% a bit disgusting. I never got around to writing about it because… I just didn’t, I dunno. It’s also okay to eat things and not write about them.

Then, there’s the stuff that shouldn’t be liked, the ‘guilty pleasures’ I suppose they’d be called in today’s language. This is where the food police like to stick their oar in. Yes, there are important issues like sustainability and environmental impact. I care about those issues and try my best to do right, but sometimes I just want to eat a Filet o Fish and not feel bad about it, you know? Or maybe I just can’t stick a trendy ingredient. See: brains. Totally disgusting.

So, I decided to write some food confessions, since I’m feeling sufficiently grumpy. There just happened to be ten that came to mind – it’s an entirely accidental round number and I may well write another list soon.

1. Bone marrow weirds me out

This is a perfect example of something that everyone is supposed to enjoy. Ever since it appeared on the menu at Fergus Henderson’s St. John restaurant all those years ago, the sawed bones standing up like neolithic rocks next to a parsley salad and a pile of salt, people have gone crazy for it. I dutifully ate it along with everyone else, but to be honest I find the really wibbly bits gross and I’m now prepared to admit that. I don’t mind it mixed into things like a pie for example, but I associate marrow with transplants and hospitals. So there.

2. I will eat pineapple on a pizza

Yeah okay so I don’t, but I would. Deal with it. For your information, I spend much of my time in the finest Neopolitan pizza restaurants in London eating their carefully cultured dough, San Marzano tomatoes and Bianca la Bufala, but I would also enjoy eating a filthy pizza with pineapple on it and there’s nothing you or anyone else can do about it. I do draw the line at most ‘experimental toppings’ however. Fire and Stone for example – total clown shoes.

3. One of my favourite sandwiches comes on processed white bread

When I am sick or feeling sorry for myself only one sandwich will do. Start with processed, sliced white bread and fill with a mixture of mayonnaise, grated cheddar and grated onion (yes, that is as painful as it sounds). Add a tinkle of malt vinegar, salt and pepper. The softness of the bread is something that cannot be achieved by haughtier loaves, and it comforts me. Combined with what is effectively a very pungent sandwich spread, plus a heavy element of nostalgia, it’s the one I will come back to for the rest of my life. Thanks Dad, for that recipe. I still can’t make them as good as you do!


4. I really struggle with tripe and intestines

Not that unusual, you might think, but in the world of Food People, one is expected to enjoy these bits. They started out as something I’d never touch, until I discovered pigs’ intestines in Sichuan dishes where they come fried up with lots of chilli and peppercorns, chewy yet crisp in places – totally something I could get into. And then it happened. Once you have had a musty, faintly poo-laced piece in your mouth, you will never eat them again. Tripe has that slippery honeycomb texture that doesn’t so much glide over the tongue as give it a flappy tickle and you know what, I’m calling it a day.

5. I enjoy a cup of instant coffee

Yep. Die inside, coffee people! I recently found myself in a situation where there was only instant and I got right into it. Nostalgia involved again here of course. Youngsters – freeze dried coffee was once an exciting thing. Nescafe lead the way with adverts featuring close-ups of interlocked fingers clasping red mugs, wafts of steam heading for aesthetically perfect noses.

6. I think arancini are crap

Don’t get them. Risotto is a lovely thing, and I admire the whole repurposing leftovers business because if there’s one thing that deeply upsets me, it’s wasted food. Arancini however are mushy, the crisp coating is never enough to combat the slimy interior and they just sort of flop in the mouth like they can’t be bothered. Well neither can I.

7. I think matcha tea is disgusting

Apparently everyone else thinks matcha is the dogs’ danglies but I think it tastes like someone squeezed a vegetable until it really hurt, then took the bitter juice from its imaginary plant spleen and distilled it into a drink. Matcha is angry, guys. Matcha is angry at you with your little brushes and bowls and your green, green tongues. Sorry to my friend Gergely, who bought me a lovely matcha bowl because he doesn’t yet know I can’t stand the stuff. I actually use the bowl for soup.

Foie gras

8. Foie gras really upsets me

I have eaten my fair share of foie gras over the years, including one particularly gluttonous plateful at Le Gavroche which involved a seared lobe served, inexplicably, with a fried pancake containing confit duck. Rich, much? This was a course which followed a cheese souffle baked in cream, FYI. Yes, we did feel sick. I have eaten foie gras since then, but over the years I’ve become increasingly upset by gavage, or force feeding, which is what they do to the geese or ducks to make their livers so fatty. I will no longer be a part of that because it’s cruel. Animal cruelty keeps me awake at night, and I’m not just using a turn of phrase there, it does. I am selective about the meat I eat now, eating much less, and only if I know as much as I need to about where it has come from.

9. I think the food in Paris is balls

Sorry. Food in Paris really isn’t up to much. People will tell you that you can just find great little bistros on every corner and that, frankly, is bollocks. A decent bistro is hard to find now in my experience and that of my partner/boyfriend/insert more satisfactory word here, who used to live there. It’s either super high end boring frippery or tinned vegetables. Merde.

The pastries, bread and cheese are still world class, obvs.

vol au vents

10. I love vol au vents

To which French people will now scoff and say hah! No wonder she thinks our food is shit, the woman eats the 1970’s! Vol au vents can be brilliant however, and I kind of even like the bad ones (those you see above contained garlic snails funnily enough, and were fabulous). We’ve all been to a ‘brown food buffet’ (weddings, funerals), and I bet we can all say that there is some pleasure to be found in those Campbell’s soup flavoured blobs and crustless triangular sandwiches. But when is it okay to go up for seconds?

Come on then, what are yours? This is the time to get it off your chest! Also, this is partly the point of me posting so er, don’t leave me hanging, guys…

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  • Avatar
    Reply SteveF March 8, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    I quite like Sacla pesto.

    I’ll get my coat.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves March 8, 2016 at 7:43 pm


      Only kidding 😉

  • Avatar
    Reply Amardeep March 8, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    Yes to fillet-o-fish.

    I love the ham cheese and tomato croissants from Pret.

    I really don’t like salted caramel.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves March 8, 2016 at 8:06 pm

      Don’t like salted caramel! Brilliant. I eat quite a few things from Pret actually, the jambon beurre, that baguette with the parma ham in it, and um, other things.

      • Avatar
        Reply Amardeep March 8, 2016 at 8:56 pm

        That croissant is great after a night out. Salty goodness.

        Also, the ham and cheese baguette from upper crust is really good. A staple of mine for a long train journey.

        • Avatar
          Reply Amardeep March 8, 2016 at 8:56 pm

          Oh and chicken and mushroom pukka pies. Love them.

        • Avatar
          Reply Helen Graves March 8, 2016 at 9:01 pm

          Ooh you filthbag! I haven’t been to an Upper Crust in years. I shall eye up those cheese and ham numbers.

      • Avatar
        Reply Anna March 9, 2016 at 10:48 am

        me love-y the pret breakfast baguettes with egg salad (which I normally detest) and smoked salmon! especially if the white baguette is under baked and slightly soggy inside 🙂
        Also, I see your white bread sandwich nostalgia and raise you: white processed bread, thick layer of Hellman’s ONLY mayo and another thick layer of thick tomato paste, preferably the from White Tower little tins, found in turkish delis (which is Greek and comes from my home town, Thessaloniki) OMG i want one now!

        • Avatar
          Reply Helen Graves March 9, 2016 at 10:55 am

          Brilliant! Love the sound of that sandwich. I have to try it.

  • Avatar
    Reply Donald March 8, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    There are times when I really enjoy shit corner shop Corbieres. Somehow it seems more authentic than the better producers who actually make good wine.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves March 8, 2016 at 8:07 pm

      CORNER SHOP WINE! Tells no lies.

      • Avatar
        Reply Fi KP March 11, 2016 at 10:22 am

        Sometimes an unchallenging wine is all you need. Like you can’t eat at Hedone every night.

  • Avatar
    Reply Rachel Lucas March 8, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    Absolutely with you on the foie gras issue, Helen. I just can’t square the cruelty. It’s why I’m eating less and less meat altogether now…and I suspect one day it may disappear from my diet altogether. I don’t mind cooking it for others in the least, though (still not foie gras) Ditto lobsters. The constant debate about how to cause them the least suffering when dispatching them just isn’t worth it to me. I love a good old cheddar & Branston sarnie too on occasion. Knorr Chicken Noodle packet soup when I’m feeling a bit ‘meh’. And a good old supermarket Madeira or even pink & yellow angel cake slab is pretty fab on a cold rainy Saturday with a strong cuppa!! Homemade is beautiful, but it doesn’t hit the same spot as those E numbers do!! Hate no reservation restaurants with a passion. However good they are and however dying to try them I may be, I get panicky at the thought of queuing and not getting a table. May be my age! Great post, I’m sure so many if yes feel the same.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves March 8, 2016 at 8:08 pm

      Cheese and pickle sandwiches! Lovely. Also I’ve got a soft spot for corned beef and pickle.

      • Avatar
        Reply Fi KP March 11, 2016 at 10:21 am

        CORNED BEEF + PICKLE. Has to be Branstons, though.

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    Reply cat March 8, 2016 at 8:06 pm

    That creamed cod roe from ikea food hall, that comes in a toothpaste tube… I could probably suck it straight out of the tube, like astronaut food. I don’t, but only because it’s a pain to go to ikea to get more…

  • Avatar
    Reply Tracy March 8, 2016 at 8:07 pm

    I am totally with you on almost all of these. For me, fishfingers, potato waffles, baked beans. Ideally made into a sandwich with cheap white plastic bread and tartare sauce. Angel delight for pudding makes it perfect. My boyfriend genuinely adores Fray Bentos steamed puddings though (also made into sandwiches with cheap white plastic bread with ketchup), and that I will never understand.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves March 8, 2016 at 8:09 pm

      That is AMAZING. Pie sandwiches. Pie. Sandwiches.

      • Avatar
        Reply Amardeep March 8, 2016 at 9:00 pm

        I tell you wha tis great. 2 Potato waffles grilled with loads of cheddar. Then pile it between two cheap white bread slices with fuck lots of mayo and ketchup. Carb sandwich but great.

        • Avatar
          Reply Helen Graves March 8, 2016 at 9:01 pm

          That’s the second vote for waffles-in-a-sandwich

          • Avatar
            Joshua March 9, 2016 at 10:53 am

            Waffles in a fish finger (or Sainos spicy bean burger) sandwich are awesome, I like to think of them as equivalent to the hash brown in a KFC Tower burger

          • Avatar
            Helen Graves March 9, 2016 at 10:56 am

            The waffles in sandwich are proving very popular in this thread. I’ve made one WITH waffles, but never put one inside. Well, not that I remember anyway. It has to be tried.

          • Avatar
            Joshua March 9, 2016 at 10:56 am

            I don’t feel like I’m confessing though, I’ve never had any shame in what I like to eat and have always thought people who’ve said they’re not into trashy food were lying (either to me or themselves).

          • Avatar
            Helen Graves March 9, 2016 at 10:57 am

            I don’t have any shame either. It’s more that other people, particularly food writers, like to stand on their moral high ground about such issues.

          • Avatar
            Joshua March 14, 2016 at 2:18 pm

            I say never trust anyone’s opinion of food unless they eat the whole gamut of it.

          • Avatar
            Helen Graves March 14, 2016 at 2:19 pm


  • Avatar
    Reply Shaun Alpine-Crabtree March 8, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    Cold mash potato and fried egg sandwiches, on thick sliced white bread. With margarine. There, I’ve said it.
    Also Ritz crackers. Christ I love Ritz crackers.
    Don’t mind a Doritos and peanut M&M feast in front of Antiques Road Show either.
    Must admit I’m still wrestling with my conscience over foie gras. So far my guts got it.
    Going to lie down now, I’m feeling weak.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves March 8, 2016 at 8:28 pm

      Margarine! I need a lie down too, Shaun. It’s so tiring, this confessional. Ritz crackers are indeed the shiz, as someone else reminded me just the other day.

  • Avatar
    Reply Donald March 8, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    I really like the Hovis brown bread shaped cheese biscuits, I think they might be my favourite cheese biscuits. Also butter on the biscuit with the cheese.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves March 8, 2016 at 8:35 pm

      I am totally behind the butter on the biscuit with the cheese although it does remind me of aeroplane food.

  • Avatar
    Reply Pete March 8, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    Custard creams and builders tea. I tried to convince myself that I was into posh coffee, as I’m a food wanker usually. Realised about a year ago that I like tea. A lot.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves March 8, 2016 at 8:43 pm

      OMFG custard creams are one of the world’s greatest biscuits and no mistake. I can’t get into posh coffee either, and actually it doesn’t seem to like me. I drink around 10 cups of tea a day though.

      • Avatar
        Reply Ben March 10, 2016 at 8:49 am

        Punjana? Am not being rude. Marvellous tea.

  • Avatar
    Reply Jess March 8, 2016 at 8:51 pm

    I hate truffles
    I love frankfurters

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves March 8, 2016 at 8:54 pm

      Truffle oil is RANK. I should’ve put that in. I do like fresh truffles but you know, not really an everyday thing is it? Especially not fresh ones that actually taste of something. So often they’re just like pencil shavings.

      • Avatar
        Reply Jess March 8, 2016 at 9:28 pm

        It’s the stink that gets me. Shite. Fuck off truffles. Also with you on the foie point, not just the cruelty issue but also it is just like eating meaty butter.

        • Avatar
          Reply Helen Graves March 8, 2016 at 9:38 pm

          It IS like eating meaty butter, there’s no denying it.

          • Avatar
            Darcy March 14, 2016 at 12:27 pm

            Amazing how we all differ.
            Assuming we are not talking about creamy chocolate, then I cannot disagree more. Truffle pungency is the greatest and sacla truffle and parmesan sauce is fantastic just spread on toast. Agree that commercial/cheap truffle oil tends not to bring a lot to food it is added to but it can smell good. Truffle honey is nice.
            I can’t stand the smell of people who smoke, but smoked food is a different matter.
            I also struggle with the smell of instant coffee, but fresh trendy coffee is delightful.

  • Avatar
    Reply Alicia (foodycat) March 8, 2016 at 8:56 pm

    I don’t mind instant coffee as a beverage, just not as coffee. And I always keep a jar of decaf instant for cooking.

    Not only is a filet o fish a very fine sandwich, the sausage and egg mcmuffin is one of the best breakfasts money can buy.

    The French are wrong, the Greeks are right – lamb is much nicer well-done.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves March 8, 2016 at 9:00 pm

      Yes, the sausage and egg Mcmuffin is great – had one just the other day. I’m kind of easy on the lamb issue actually, depending on the cut but yeah, slow roasted is wonderful.

  • Avatar
    Reply SecretCricketer March 8, 2016 at 9:43 pm

    Better than a fiiet o fish in Halifax, and decades earlier: I give you the fish teacake.

    A soft white bread roll about six inches diameter, buttered, filled with a skinned, battered, deep-fried haddock fillet, drowned with malt vinegar and coated in salt.

    OK. It’s probably mirrored in Hipsterville by fish-finger sandwiches, and they’d call it “Old skool dirty fish sammidge” and ruin it by adding mayo.

    Ask @Tinytwink

  • Avatar
    Reply Jackie March 8, 2016 at 9:58 pm

    Yes to the bone marrow – that shit is just gross. As are the eggs that seem to wobbling on top of whatever all over Instagram these days.

    I have never tasted matcha but – like the eggs and avocado on toast on Instagram – the sight of matcha whatever (ice cream. cupcakes) makes me stabby – it’s just so try-hard.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves March 9, 2016 at 7:57 am

      Haha. I don’t want you to get stabby, Jackie, but I quite like the flavour in ice cream because the sugar balances the bitterness.

  • Avatar
    Reply Mark March 8, 2016 at 10:40 pm

    God this is like AA (I imagine).

    My dirty secret is those burgers you buy in a plastic packet in the supermarket for £2 or whatever…but you don’t microwave them as instructed. I toast the bread and fry the burger. Add some red sauce and American mustard, pickle, maybe sriracha and you have something that is, I’d say, at a level of the best burger you could expect from McD’s. I tell the check out person I buy them for my children . Her look says…pity.

    Also have recently rediscovered digestive biscuits with 5mm butter on top – standard apres school fare many years ago.

    I am reminded of the pies I used to buy on Byres Rd in Glasgow – mutton pie with beans on top but in the INSIDE!!! Genius.

    Anchovies straight out the jar while drinking gin…

    The deep fired pizza supper which does have some lineage back to the old country…

    I do make claim to one original dish – haggis ravioli. I made it first and it is great. Yes, carb on carb, like potato pizza – don’t mock.

    Ambrosia creamed rice out the tin with a spoon when I was 12 or so, round at my Gran’s. Never told my Mum.

    Crisp sandwiches.

    I am currently running the concept of fish pie pie thru my mind… a standard potato topped fish pie, wrapped in rough puff. It has winner written all over it.

    I need to go and lick some wisks.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves March 9, 2016 at 8:00 am

      I am very impressed by this comprehensive list, Mark. The burgers … well, I am speechless! Good for you. I applaud your honesty. Anchovies straight from the tin is just necessary, and I like the idea of haggis in raviloli. I’ve had it in gyoza before, which was pretty damn tasty, and it’s great in a toasted sandwich. Weirdly, so is the vegetarian haggis, no idea what they make it with.

      • Avatar
        Reply Alicia (foodycat) March 9, 2016 at 9:11 am

        The mention of creamed rice from the tin makes me want to see if tinned ravioli lives up to my memories of it.

  • Avatar
    Reply Martha March 8, 2016 at 11:06 pm

    Instant azera coffee FTW. And cheese & onion sandwiches, fish finger sandwiches on cheap white bread, also for cheese toasties. Cheap cheese slices melted on things with green chillis. Loads of stuff from Pret. And I quite often have a pakora or samosa from a tube station vendor ????
    Don’t really get most pulled pork. And lots of worthy bread is just hard work.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves March 9, 2016 at 8:01 am

      Pulled pork! HOW could I leave that out. Mostly it’s like horrible cotton wool with sauce on top.

    • Avatar
      Reply Fi KP March 11, 2016 at 10:23 am

      YES to Azera coffee.

  • Avatar
    Reply Krista March 8, 2016 at 11:26 pm

    I have instant coffee every morning. I like it a lot.

  • Avatar
    Reply Howard64 March 9, 2016 at 12:49 am

    Your home-made sandwich spread sounds superb! I must give it a try, though I am am completely incompetant in the kitchen.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves March 9, 2016 at 8:02 am

      Why, thank you. Although credit must go to my dad.

  • Avatar
    Reply Kezza March 9, 2016 at 1:13 am

    Oh Helen….. A plate of mash drowned in gravy (bisto best preferably). You know that shits the pure comfort bomb for me. Oh and I hear you on the white bread sandwich although I like it filled with those gorgeous, plastic like, slap on cheese slices and smattered with rock salt.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves March 9, 2016 at 8:03 am

      Kezza! Is that you? I actually remember when you used to eat that when we were kids! Back in the shire…happy days. Happy gravy days. Also YES to slappy cheese.

  • Avatar
    Reply Food Urchin March 9, 2016 at 7:26 am

    A very brave post Helen, in which you are right about so many things, and so wrong on tripe.

    Similarly to other commenters, I love IKEA meatballs and that gravy that comes in a packet.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves March 9, 2016 at 8:03 am

      I swear to god Danny you should be their ambassador. The Tripe Marketing Board is waiting!

      • Avatar
        Reply Ben March 10, 2016 at 8:51 am

        That Tim Anderson chap has a tripe starter at Nanban that’s lovely, and GV. Enough crunch and sourness to balance the tripe.

        • Avatar
          Reply Helen Graves March 10, 2016 at 10:16 am

          Yeah, I have had it actually. It WAS nice, but I wouldn’t order it again.

  • Avatar
    Reply Richard March 9, 2016 at 8:17 am

    I drink instant coffee always. Mainly for the thought of some beardy coffee nazi in Clapton getting really angry about it. Cold press THAT, bastard! Sandwich Spread. Come on then, judge me. Tuna and SALAD CREAM sandwiches. None of your fancy continental mayonnaise muck. Also, really shit economy vinegary greasy spoon ketchup. This becoming a cathartic therapy session.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves March 9, 2016 at 8:24 am

      I loved sandwich spread as a kid, and also cheese and salad cream sandwiches. Yum!

  • Avatar
    Reply Andy K March 9, 2016 at 8:27 am

    Tripe really is rubbish and I 100% agree on the pointlessness of most arancini. Bone marrow is ok once you start thinking about it like meat butter. Who doesn’t like butter? But in the end it’s just something you spread on toast…

    Plastic cheese. Amazing. On a cheap burger or hot-dog at home. They probably have to call them “cheese-flavoured non-dairy slices” or something because they’re so artificial but who cares? They’re probably why I like a McDs so much…

    Not a lot of mention of confectionery as a guilty plearure, which is surprising? Creme eggs, dark chocolate digestives etc?

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves March 9, 2016 at 8:32 am

      I don’t know many people who don’t secretly like slappy cheese slices. They work so well in burgers… orange cheese goo. Mmmm, goo.

  • Avatar
    Reply Ginandcrumpets March 9, 2016 at 8:29 am

    Corned beef sandwiches. My absolute favourite when I was growing up. My mum would order a quarter of corned beef at the deli counter every week just for me (and yes, I am so old that we used to shop in imperial measurements). When I moved to London there was a super cheap sandwich chain called Benjys that sold corned beef rolls for £1. Kept me going as a student.

    Twixes dunked in tea. Bacon and fried egg sandwiches on white with marge and ketchup. Those cheap sausages that are fried till they’re rock solid in fish and chip shops. The vinegary ketchup in fish and chip shops. Heinz tinned spaghetti bolognese on toast. Frozen French bread pizzas (pineapple, of course). Mr Kipling cakes.

    These are a few of my favourite things.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves March 9, 2016 at 8:34 am

      I remember buying sweets in quarters at the newsagents. A quarter of cough candy twists/pineapple cubes/rhubarb and custards please.

      Also a big fan of corned beef. My choc of choice for tea dunking is the Crunchie.

      And French bread pizzas! Damn, I remember the Findus ones.

      • Avatar
        Reply Ginandcrumpets March 9, 2016 at 10:33 am

        The Findus French Bread Pizzas caused a real flufrry of excitement in my house when they were launched. They immediately became a freezer essential, along with Neapolitan ice cream (for slicing into blocks to eat between wafers) and frozen cream Victoria sponge cake that could eat straight form the freezer. Amazing things.

        • Avatar
          Reply Helen Graves March 9, 2016 at 10:42 am

          Our childhood diet sounds basically identical. Cod in parsley sauce cooked in the bag? Tick! Findus crispy pancakes? Tick! Neopolitan ice cream was just the best thing ever.

  • Avatar
    Reply Lynn Spencer March 9, 2016 at 8:36 am

    I’m a vegetarian and I hate aubergines. Not overly keen on courgettes either. On the other hand, I love plastic brread,- French toast isn’t the same with anything else, and yes, with you on pineapple pizza.
    God, I feel so much better.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves March 9, 2016 at 8:39 am

      SHOCK! HORROR! We’re here for you, Lynn.

  • Avatar
    Reply Joel Hutchinson March 9, 2016 at 9:12 am

    Double patty hamburgers (apart from Le Big Mac) has the ratio of meat to bun all wrong. I’d eat it don’t get me wrong, but single hamburgers are much better. Offal, sweetbreads, brain and foie gras (yuk). Fray bentos pies – 1 or 2 a year as it feels wrong. Pie in a can. Delicious! A pastrami roll with dill pickles and always with a packet of crisps. The perfect combo (especially on a train journey).

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves March 9, 2016 at 9:41 am

      Agree. Too much beef. As for things with crisps… I remember when putting pickled eggs in bags of crisps at the pub was a ‘thing’. Might revisit that, if my stomach can take it.

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    Reply vincent ayre March 9, 2016 at 9:19 am

    Hello , my name is Vincent and I eat at chain restaurants , drink Costa coffee from pods in the morning and am too fond of a Sausage Egg McMuffin .

    With you on Paris to the extent I actively dislike the city, I cant even look at tripe let alone eat it and have never wanted to eat the inside of a bone.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves March 9, 2016 at 9:42 am

      Welcome, Vincent. We are not judgemental here. Pleased to hear you’re with me on some of these!

  • Avatar
    Reply Jimbob March 9, 2016 at 10:20 am

    +1 for the Arancini take-down; they seem like they should work but fail spectacularly.

    Big Macs are bloody lovely aren’t they.

    Also, Sainsbury’s doughnuts (5 for 55p!)

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves March 9, 2016 at 10:29 am

      Yes, Big Macs ARE lovely. There’s a reason they’re so successful. I’ve never eaten a Sainsbury’s doughnut I must admit.

  • Avatar
    Reply Yas March 9, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    Fray Bentos pies. Something so satisfying about the crispy fatty way they plump up, and the brown mushy goodness of whatever filling they ensconce. Particularly steak and kidney. Nom.
    And I can’t hack kale. I know, I’m meant to adore the stuff and put it in everything and wear it and worship it. It’s like trying to eat a hairball, unless you deep fry the stuff. And yeah, i’ll have it if it’s already there, I know it’s healthy and whatevs, but I probably won’t enjoy it.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves March 9, 2016 at 12:40 pm

      Kale hairballs hahaha. A lot of votes for Fray Bentos, too…

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    Reply Kate March 9, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    Potato farls with butter, Sandwich Spread and Marmite, spread on in that order. With a really cold can of own-brand cloudy/pink lemonade and maybe some pickled silverskin onions. Reminds me of my dad and fixes any hangover. Also makes you STINK, but who cares at that point.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves March 9, 2016 at 1:21 pm

      That is really random, Kate. Fair play to you. Also, anything that reminds us of our dads has got to be a winner, eh?!

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    Reply Gareth March 9, 2016 at 3:37 pm

    Cracker sandwiches (preferably Jacobs Choice Grain) with loads of butter.

    Condiments (HP, Ketchup, Branston, Mustard) on toast.

    Stiff pudding (Angel Delight) and biscuits – must be digestives.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves March 9, 2016 at 4:49 pm

      WHAT pudding, Gareth?! Haha. I’ve never heard it called that before.

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    Reply Ian March 9, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    With love for McDonalds, dirty fried chicken joints (almost always hot wings, and smaller, better and cheaper in London, in my experience), IKEA meatballs, the Pret warm breakfast croissant, Sainsbury’s filled doughnuts, chips with gravy, Greggs sausage rolls, instant coffee (when not billed as coffee), corner shop wine and so on, a vote for instant noodles, especially as a breakfast food: two brands in particular, Nissin and Nong Shim, in both cases the ones which come in an actual cup.

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      Reply Helen Graves March 9, 2016 at 4:50 pm

      God damn that breakfast croissant, I must have it.

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    Reply Mary March 9, 2016 at 4:29 pm

    Love this. Mash,cheese and tuna is amazing! Pasta,cheese,tomato puree and those smoked frankfurters from the supermarked 🙂 mmmmm!

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      Reply Helen Graves March 9, 2016 at 4:50 pm

      Oh god I can’t bear cheese and tuna! But you hold the fort on that one Mary, we’re behind you.

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    Reply Sally -Mycustardpie March 9, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    Thumbs down. Matcha lattes – so pretty but taste like warm seaweed. Vomit inducing. Truffle oil – made in a lab and reeks. Sous vide eggs – the texture. Just horrible. Veal anything – and other baby animals which used to be a rare display of wealth to show you didn’t have to mature the animal and now wheeled out at any function to impress.
    Thumbs up. Beans on toast with brown sauce. Birds custard.

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      Reply Helen Graves March 9, 2016 at 4:51 pm

      Veal really doesn’t have much flavour…. and yes to beans with brown sauce! Used to love that as a kid.

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    Reply Rachael Ferguson March 9, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    Love: Heinz Tinned Spaghetti Bolognese on toast. Sue me!

    Hate: Aubergine, so very much. It tastes off? Like when you accidentally eat moldy bread. I also can’t bring myself to like the texture. It’s like a really funky smelling savoury banana. Which I’m also not great with.

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      Reply Helen Graves March 9, 2016 at 4:51 pm

      I LOVE aubergine, but it’s got to be cooked right. Smoky in baba ganoush or similar, or simmered for a long time, or grilled. There’s so much bad aubergine out there. Bananas can fuck off.

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    Reply Holly March 9, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    Tesco sushi and a red pepperami, no waste too as the cat likes to lick the weird sausage condom and eat the prawn tail from the sushi.

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      Reply Helen Graves March 9, 2016 at 4:52 pm

      That Pepperami is actually pretty damn spicy, right?! The floppy sausage condom is really gross though. I like how you have this little meal time with the cat. Might try it with mine.

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    Reply Mabbs March 9, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    HELLO TWIN YOU ARE MY TWIN. Agree on the bone marrow wibble! And the foie, obvs. I actively seek out pineapple on pizza.

    I really like the cheese and onion slice from Greggs. Yup.

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      Reply Helen Graves March 9, 2016 at 4:53 pm

      I LOVE A cheese and onion slice!! Damn I’d go for that right now. We are SO TWINNED x

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    Reply Sarah C March 9, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    1. Agree strongly with intestines and tripe – no, I do not want to eat anything which is involved with the digestive process/handles waste, thank you VERY much.

    2. Campari is the devil. So are Sambuca, Jager, and any liquor which uses liquorice as a flavouring agent.

    3. Get your goddamn lavender out of my goddamn desserts. If I wanted to eat a sachet I’d damn well eat one. That goes for rose, orange blossom, and violet too.

    4. Related note: I can definitely live with carrots and courgette in cakes, but please don’t try to tell me that something like beetroot sorbet is pudding.

    5. I don’t like most of the high-end burgers around, by which I mean MeatLiquor, Patty & Bun, etc. Way overloaded with stuff and far too soggy. They taste good, but I’d rather have a more petite burger that I can eat without the bun dissolving halfway through. And not feel disgustingly full afterwards.

    6. Cold Chinese food/cold pizza is the breakfast of kings.

    7. I love all sorts of fancy choc, but my favourite will always be Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, crap chocolate and all.

    8. I have managed to beat most of my childhood food prejudices, but unmelted hard cheeses still gross me out a bit. (Until I was 18 I just wouldn’t eat cheese, with the exception of melted cheese on pizza)

    9. Can’t handle mayonnaise-based salads.Mayo is fine in teeny-tiny quantities, but is otherwise gross. In-laws once served a spread for lunch almost entirely composed of creamy pre-prepared salads. Guess who ate bread and cherry tomatoes?

    10. Looking at all the negative stuff, I need to add in positive things! So: I love chicken-flavoured cheap ramen with an egg scrambled into it. Ditto fake maple syrup, frozen waffles, and dill pickles dipped in cheap barbecue sauce.

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      Reply Helen Graves March 10, 2016 at 7:37 am

      I love this, Sarah. That Russian potato salad with the chopped vegetables and mayonnaise is particularly disgusting. Also – Reese’s cups are one of the finest confectionary items known to woman. I also hate Campari. Should’ve put that in.

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        Reply Sarah C March 10, 2016 at 11:46 pm

        There was a stage in 2011/2012 when every single restaurant’s special cocktail contained Campari, and I was very, very sad.

        I also had a funny moment recently in a restaurant where OH and I were offered a round of free Negronis. “NO, I DON’T WANT YOUR CAMPARI, EVEN IF IT’S FREE.”

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          Reply Helen Graves March 11, 2016 at 7:49 am

          It’s still a problem, I think. Not as bad, but still a thing!

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    Reply Jo March 9, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    Curried baked beans. Straight from the tin, cold. Scraping out every smidgeon of sauce – with a finger, possibly, if no-one is looking. They jazzed up cold meat salads of the 70s and, yes, so did salad cream which I’ve just enjoyed in New Zealand where it is called mayo but without meaning to dress it up. I’m so with you on eating out in Paris; my tactic is to buy cheese and French bread (and usually some pate and some cornichons) and picnic through it – to avoid the cheap bistros that do exist, for students of the Sorbonne, where it’s always something with Russian salad which I loathe (disagree?) as it usually includes an unidentifiable undercooked veg that resists chewing while the rest has the texture of slime. And that 50s drinks party special – deviled eggs, the golden yolk filling piped into the middle in a swirl … satisfyingly delicious!

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      Reply Helen Graves March 10, 2016 at 7:37 am

      Salad cream is called mayonnaise in NZ?! No, I’m with you on the Russian salad.

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        Reply Jo March 11, 2016 at 12:53 am

        No, not generally. But what came out of the squeezy bottle (I can’t remember the brand but the product name was “Mayo”) in my cousin’s fridge was definitely what you and I would call salad cream. Odd, I know.

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    Reply Halina March 9, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    Thank you for a great post. The fun of food is in the way it can make us feel and those links to our childhood memories are so important. I’m with you on 95% of your list. Matcha anything, chia anything. Not a big fan of slime, so tripe (congealed snot) is vile. Truffle oil is like rancid wet dog. What I mostly loathe is mediocre food. Simple food ruined by poor ingredients or rubbish cooking (that covers Paris) . Don’t get me started on arsey service. My secret vice would be that I can only eat a Cornish pasty with salad cream, that is all there was on a beach picnic, so that’s how it has to be.

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      Reply Helen Graves March 10, 2016 at 7:38 am

      oooh I like the idea of Cornish pasty with salad cream. I always eat mine with HP.

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    Reply Claire March 9, 2016 at 8:44 pm

    Stands up “Hi, my name is Claire”. ” Hiiiiiiiiiii Claire” everyone says. Awkward silences.

    Um, well I like chunky chips dipped in Colman’s English mustard. I like the way it makes my eyes water and nose burn.

    *sits down. Weight lifted off chest*

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      Reply Helen Graves March 10, 2016 at 7:39 am

      I once made myself cry in a restaurant where I had asked for extra mustard then I had to pretend like it wasn’t happening. Actual tears. I’m a mayo and ketchup combo girl when it comes to chips.

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    Reply Claire March 9, 2016 at 8:46 pm

    I also like Jacobs crackers with thick slices of cheese microwaved over it. *homer drawwwwwwwl*

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    Reply Martha March 9, 2016 at 9:48 pm

    UPDATE: the confit potatoes at Quality Chop House did not live up to their reputation. SO disappointing.

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      Reply Helen Graves March 10, 2016 at 7:39 am

      OMG I love those potatoes BUT, stand firm, Martha!

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        Reply Martha March 12, 2016 at 9:30 pm

        Maybe mine were over fried. Disappointing because I adore potatoes and fried food.

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    Reply Jane March 10, 2016 at 4:17 am

    For when only something gross will do. Two hot sausage rolls in a thickly buttered and mayo-ed long bread roll. Potato chips (crisps to Brits) are an acceptable addition. If they’ll fit.
    Lady & Pups http://ladyandpups.com/ has an inspiring recipe category called SHIT I EAT BY MYSELF.

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      Reply Helen Graves March 10, 2016 at 7:39 am

      That’s amazing. I have to try the sausage roll sandwich. Respect.

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    Reply Leyla Kazim March 10, 2016 at 8:05 am

    Love this Helen – all of the lolz. And like I said – buttered toast dipped in tea FTW.

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      Reply Helen Graves March 10, 2016 at 10:15 am

      Oh yes! I’d forgotten about your toast dipping.

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    Reply Charlotte March 10, 2016 at 8:51 am

    Not a fan of baked beans – not sure what it is, but they don’t do anything for me. Wotsits too, I think I ate too many as a kid and now I’m put off for life!
    Okay, stuff I love – McDonald’s. In just about any form. Chicken nuggets when drunk and a sausage and egg mcmuffin when hungover is a great thing. Also smash and bisto, I can make both mash and gravy normally but seeing as my dad did the cooking in my house, this was what I’d have with my sausages/on top of cottage pie etc

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      Reply Helen Graves March 10, 2016 at 10:15 am

      No I’m not into baked beans either. I dunno, so sweet.

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    Reply Ms Marple March 10, 2016 at 9:04 am

    Steak slice from Ayres Bakers in Nunhead….thermo nuclearish hot, school dinner smelling mince which slides down to bottom of pastry so first off you’re eating meat flavoured pastry then suddenly a pool of molten meat….regularly 3rd degree mouth burns because of greed.
    Crisps of any flavour in any kind of cheese sandwich…
    Home made samosas dipped in black cherry yoghurt.
    Big macs eaten so quickly only breathing thru nose.
    Salad cream sandwiches on white bread.
    Cod’s roe fish cakes from a chippie…my dad’s slightly tearful food advice for maximum nutrition\minimum cost in case I ever found myself homeless….aaahh.
    Ferrero Rocher for pudding and what a handy box for thinking about storing sewing things in. Double win.
    Let’s have a shit food restaurant.

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      Reply Helen Graves March 10, 2016 at 10:17 am

      Samosas in black cherry yoghurt – that is a cracker. I’ve never come across a roe fish cake but I would bloody love to try one.

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    Reply Gibby March 10, 2016 at 9:16 am

    I hate runny egg. Totally with you on foie gras.

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      Reply Helen Graves March 10, 2016 at 10:17 am

      So many people don’t like eggs, I’ve found. I was genuinely surprised.

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    Reply Halina March 10, 2016 at 9:41 am

    Ditto stuff with lavender in. I just can’t bring myself to eat anything that smells of loos and old ladies. Rosewater bottle may be passed over a dish (with the lid partially closed) and that will suffice for flavouring.

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      Reply Helen Graves March 10, 2016 at 10:18 am

      Yeah I have used lavender with lamb but it’s overwhelming. I hate it in desserts.

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    Reply Niamh March 10, 2016 at 11:27 am

    haha! Love this and so with you on most of these. I love instant noodles, love ’em, love ’em, love ’em. And beef Alien Raiders (LOVE ‘EM!) and haribo. I LOVE HARIBO!

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      Reply Helen Graves March 10, 2016 at 12:00 pm

      Instant noodles are always in my cupboard! It’s all down to how far I can be arsed to pimp them…sometimes a lot, sometimes all I’ve got in me in spring onions and chilli oil.

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        Reply Niamh March 10, 2016 at 12:27 pm

        Yup! I often add frozen peas and tofu too as I almost always have them 🙂

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    Reply Jasmin March 10, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    Vegetables sandwich good for health. Especially I love very much egg sandwich .

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    Reply Nicola Miller March 14, 2016 at 11:11 am

    A whole can of cods roe, heated until lukewarm, sprinkled with non-brewed condiment, cheap salt, and eaten with tomato ketchup.

    *this post will self-destruct in an hour*

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    Reply Avril March 14, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    Frozen mashed potato (which comes in little tube shapes) with a disgusting amount of butter, 5 minutes in microwave and lots of chopped parsley mixed in, and some milk if it is too stiff… Food of the Gods.

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    Reply Avril March 14, 2016 at 5:07 pm

    PS Best food in Paris is at Chez Marianne in Le Marais. Generous quantities of Middle Eastern delicacies and grotty wine.

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    Reply Allan March 15, 2016 at 5:06 pm

    White bread (toasted or not; depends on your level of “badassness”), peanut butter, raspberry jam, mashed banana AAAAND sambal olek. Crispy bacon on top if you want to push the boat out… .I have to go now

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      Reply Helen Graves March 16, 2016 at 5:31 pm

      Yes that is… really quite random! Sweet/salty/hot though, I guess it’s not THAT weird 😉

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    Reply Leslie March 20, 2016 at 11:40 am

    I love the bacon rolls from the Cuppacino stand on the Overground platform at Clapham Junction. Flabby, overly salty cheap bacon on a slightly underbaked white bap that leaves crumbs down your front and gets caught in your hair. I also like the novelty of being able to buy and eat breakfast whilst changing trains.

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      Reply Helen Graves March 20, 2016 at 11:41 am

      I sometimes catch a few cooking smells in that station and think ‘that actually smells quite nice’. Guiltily, of course.

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    Reply Katie March 20, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    Great post Helen, as soon as I read about your processed sandwich it reminded me of a staple filling on offer in Scotland (well…it used to be) which is known as ‘cheese savoury’…its cheese, onion and possibly salad cream…might even be a tiny bit of grated carrot in there.

    Salad cream sandwiches on processed white bread (with frazzles, if available). See also vinegar sandwiches. Chicken flavour super noodles. Pineapple on pizza? Hell yeah…but must have chilli oil with it. Heinz tomato soup poured over pasta shapes, any will do but particularly good with spirals. Macaroni cheese pies (a wonderful Scottish thing). I better stop there.

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      Reply Helen Graves March 21, 2016 at 1:30 pm

      Hi Katie,

      Yes a lot of people told me about the savoury on Twitter! Very interesting.

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    Reply alice April 10, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    I’ve always hated root vegetable crisps

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    Reply sturdy August 28, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    Hate but get my body to process anyway
    – Roasted peanuts or monkey nuts even they have gone off – eat too many and regret
    – Diet coke – exactly what is the point
    – Bombay mix – any make, any flavour – wormy chickpea bits fried and with inconsistent seasoning and the odd random nuts
    – Sainsburys used to do a mini latkes in the Jewish section (Rakussen) way better than any rosti you can buy
    – Chips with curry sauce and onion sauce (has to be onion – not vinegar)
    – Sachets of sauces from random and questionable manufacturers in pie shops and cheap hippies
    – Wotsits, bacon crisps, pork scratchings – the lumpy, inconsistently very salty and badly made ones – not the new oh-so-posh ones with hipster flavourings like Harissa Mayonnaise ( haven’t seen one but think it will be cool)
    – Burger sauce from those long white bottles – and also hot chilli sauce from those long white bottles in fairs, burger vans
    – Burgers-of-questionable-origins – again think country fairs, concerts etc.
    – Snakebite (does any drink this anymore)
    – Guinness and Blackcurrant (haven’t seen many people ask for it recently)
    – Chicken breast pan fried in tandoori sauce from aforementioned long white bottle from the roadkill

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      Reply Helen Graves August 28, 2017 at 6:05 pm

      Haha! I haven’t heard anyone ask for Snakebite or Guinness and black for years either. I reckon it’s still happening! Not as frequently perhaps but then it’s not likely to be requested where I live right now.

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