Steve's Weird Food: It's payback time.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Those of you who immigrated here from my wildly popular travel blog, Go See Run Eat Drink, will remember the Steve's Weird Food project, and the joy and heartache (or at least stomachache) that it brought about.  For those of you who don't know about GSRED in general, or Steve's Weird Food in particular, two things:
  1. What the hell? Really? You should get yourself over to Go See Run Eat Drink and check out those archives  'cause that was some damned good writing (she said, modestly).
  2. Remember Steve? He should be well-known to you now, after the Tower of London, and Afternoon Tea and the Monolith Tour.  Steve was the last of my Winnipeg friends to see me off before I left on my big Around The World trip (see blog above).  As I left he gave me a big hug (and grabbed my ass... but that's just Steve) and gave me one last bit of advice: "Eat something weird everywhere you go."
Fateful words indeed, and ones I really took to heart.  Along with all the sightseeing and international flights and border crossings and overnight bus rides, I genuinely endeavored to find some kind of weird food in every country I visited, and attempt to eat it.  Thirty-seven times I faced the challenge, and though I occasionally took the easy way out (deep-fried twinkles, for example, and the fantastic eggs-on-a-stick) more often than not I found myself staring down various forms of offal (tripe and intestines, for instance), or animals that we in the west don't traditionally consider good eatin' (worms, dog, snake), or things that I couldn't even begin to classify (Black jelly? Pan?).  And though I generally enjoyed the project, there were times that I cursed Steve and his glib little suggestion.

So when we realised that Karen and Steve would be traveling to visit me, to a country they'd never visited before, it seemed only right and proper that I dig up a nice weird English food, and make Steve eat it, and blog about it.  Fair's fair.  The obvious choice in my mind was jellied eels, served up in a proper East End Pie & Mash shop.  Sadly, the schedule got away from us and we just didn't manage to find time to get to the Pie Shop, so we had to do a bit of quick thinking.  That's when I remembered this:

In the cupboard
The infamous All Day Breakfast in a can, lovingly saved in the back of my cupboard (though in truth "banished" might be a more appropriate verb than "saved").

So it was that poor Steve ended up posing for the camera at 7am on the morning of the Monolith Tour. Poor guy.

Steve and the can.  He's smiling here, but that did not last.

Let's just have a close up look at that label, shall we?

"Baked Beans in tomato sauce with sausages, button mushrooms, chopped pork and egg nuggets with cereal, and bacon."

Not only is that a culinarily dodgy collection of words ("nuggets" is a definite red flag), it's also somewhat grammatically challenged.  Baked beans, yes.  Sausages and button mushrooms, ok so far.  The next bit... I can't even tell if that's one thing or three things or what.  Are we talking about chopped pork, and separately about egg nuggets, all served with a side of cereal? Or, much more terrifyingly, does this can contain nuggets that are actually comprised of chopped pork AND egg AND cereal? And if so, how is that even possible?  And what the hell is cereal doing in the middle of a "full English breakfast" (And I use that term exceedingly loosely. Perhaps in the same way one might say "musician" when describing Justin Bieber).  Read on for the awful truth.

Let's break this down:
  • Baked beans:  Yes, there were beans, and Steve admitted that they were the most edible and most real items on the plate.  Thank God they made up a large percentage of the contents of that can.
  • Sausages:  It may be a bit of a stretch to call these things sausages, because I'm pretty sure that legally requires a reasonable percentage of actual meat.  Nevertheless the sausages were edible, though decidedly "texturally challenging".
  • Button mushrooms:  Second only to the beans, the mushrooms actually seemed to be a product of nature.  And there were two so the plural was justified, if only barely.
  • Bacon:  Again I think legal definitions were stretched here, as I've never encountered a perfectly round slice of bacon the size of a toonie (or a two pound coin).
Pan of Doom
The contents of the can, bubbling on the stove (hob).  
With handy labels to help you identify all the component parts.

And, finally, and most heinously:
  • Chopped pork and egg nuggets with cereal:  Indeed, the worst was true, these little nuggets of doom really did seem to be a combination of chopped pork, egg and cereal.
Close up nugget, chopped in half. Oh God, the horror.

This is all speculation, since none of the "foodstuffs" involved in the nuggets were particularly identifiable, but my best guess is that the outer coating is the chopped pork part, even though texture was largely mush.  The inside must have been the egg and cereal but really, what the hell is that combination about anyways? I tried half of one nugget in solidarity with Steve and the best way I can think to describe it is "damp sand encased in the bastard child of Spam and Satan".

Steve eating. He's a brave man.  And a smart one - notice that he supplemented the canned slop with a nice piece of whole wheat toast and actual fresh tomatoes.

Nevertheless, Steve cleaned his plate with only a small amount of grimacing.  Though he did admit to some digestive discomfort later in the day, which is significant since Steve is rather known for his cast-iron stomach.  I translated his mild complaints as equivalent to a normal person writhing in pain and begging for a stomach pump.

And what did Steve have to say about the whole experience?  When approached by the Go Stay Work Play Live editorial staff for a quote, he replied:
“'The All Day Breakfast' in a can tasted like nothing I ever want to taste again. Although I have to admit that it did stay with me for most of the day.”
Steve and his clean plate.

Nice work Steve.  Now about those jellied eels...


P.S.  In other news... the job situation has improved markedly!  I've got a gig as a freelance production manager for a show at a real grown-up theatre in Soho, which is a big boost.  The fee will barely stave off starvation, but it's a good start.  And I've got a meeting on Monday about another show at a different theatre, so things are definitely looking up.  And perhaps most interesting of all, I had a conversation this week with a man hiring for the props team on the Winter Olympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies in Sochi, Russia.  It turns out that a lot of my colleagues from last summer have moved on to that gig, so I thought I'd look into it.  On the plus side, it would pay well, and I'd be working with a lot of the good people I was with last year, and it would be another big exciting project.  On the downside, I'd have to live in Russia for about nine months, and the obstacles of producing a big show in Russia would be mammoth compared to London, and due to the Games schedule would likely not make it home to Canada for Christmas, all of which is Not Good.  Nonetheless, I'm seriously contemplating it so all I can say is... watch this space.


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