Yet another cms blog

14: A novel antagonist

Ah, Heston. What to say about Heston. Wacky brain-box TV Chef, molecular gastronomic, post-modern deconstructionist mad kitchen science. Snail porridge, exploding food, mains that look like puddings, puddings that look like scenery, foams, mists, bubbles, soil, etc. My eyebrow might be raised, my tongue in cheek, but I do generally enjoy what bits and bobs of his TV escapades I've caught over the years.

We've back in Waitrose. Heston has a deal with them, going back years, to supply aggressively quirky and comfortably weird takes on supermarket convenience food. An irony I like about this is that part of the schtick of the modern tech-cuisine whizz is appropriating techniques of industrial food production and reproducing them in a high end kitchen on a manual scale. But here, we're using the techniques of factory food production to mass produce food on a factory scale. Of course, the other part of the magic, is intelligently blending unusual ingredients and surprises with texture or form, and the prepack naturally leans on this approach here.


So. Let's have a look at the craziness. Four large spiced mince pies with a lemon twist. Nothing too confounding really. Large sounds good. Spiced might indicate something extreme. Lemon twist sounds alright though, lemon is probably my favourite flavour accent to stress in a mince pie. Nothing too wacky really. Although they do have a picture of a lemon rowing a boat? With holly sprigs for hands? Not sure I get it, but it's a minor charm.

Look a bit closer though and something interesting is happening. These pies are extremely similar in construction to those not actually pleasant Tesco finest salted caramel abominations from a few days back. Same bumpy pelleted faux-crumble top. Same biscuity baked base. Identical dimensions. How queer. Perhaps Heston, the scamp, has decided to perfectly reproduce the other supermarket treat, perhaps even by hand, unto a molecular precision, as is his occasional wont. Or maybe the snacks are all mass produced by a third party white label production company, to meet a customer flavour specification, with small variations? There's no way of knowing.

The last lot were minging, so I'm a bit worried. I want these to be good. Lemon is good. I really like fruit crumbles. I adore (vegan ideally) cheesecake. Heston is fun. I'm trying to stay optimistic.

Its disappointing though. It is basically the same tart as before. Texture is identical, there's a sort of uncanny creaminess to it, it's just that the caramel winter spice impression is replaced with something a bit more like a lemon curd. Again, it's enormously floral and perfumed, not really in a great way. Something very synthetic and reminiscent of room freshener spay is happening, and there's quite a chemical aftertaste that lingers for a while. I think that's probably entirely natural and from lemon zest but coming after all the scented notepaper impressions it leaves me feeling a bit uncomfortable. Not great at all really.