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Cultural Concubine Blog

Neither here nor there…

Could do with a splash of colour, no?

Last week in the West Countries I had another run in with one of the most sides of governmental culture in the UK.

At a lavish dinner at Drogo Castle we were served the most bizarre combinations of food and wine I have ever seen/tasted.
This in itself this does not have to be too bad, but the reasons behind it are the real howler.

Castle Drogo is a wonderful Lutyens confection on top of one of the most glowing hills of Devon. It is a vast 20th century fort of granite and oak. The dining room is no exception from this general theme, heavy woods and stones surround you, while one of the bombastically laced late Victorian ancestresses looks down on you from above the fireplace.

Oaks? I see a theme here...

The National Trust, who was our more than courteous host, had laid out the full spread. (tea and scones at intervals of 20 minutes!) But there were some dissonants.
At the main course we were served an enormous rack of lamb each, while they poured Chardonnay?!

As it turns out the Trust suffers from a supreme case of blanket decision-making… Red wine is not allowed in any of the Trust’s estates, as the wine might stain the chattels! In the old days the lady of the house would surely have found a clever way to manage the maintenance while boosting entertainment… Regretfully the Trust has an average of 5 layers of manager to work through, so blanket management is the only option. So even in an uncarpeted granite vault red wine may not be touched!
No room for discussion, and certainly no exceptions…

Secondly I noticed that at dinner the tables were decorated with battery fueled candles. A completely new thing to me… I must admit that occasionally my mind wandered from the conversation to the flickering orange tipped plastic tubes, almost hidden within a fake ‘piece de milieu’. The reasons for this were not the common disease of blanket management, but the many-headed and untamed dragon queen of blankets called:

Oh the beast!

Health and Safety

This simple law is the source of one of my other confusements: the fact that our London office kitchen is not allowed to house a toaster…

Off course it is fully understandable… Toasters are terribly corrosive and evil examples of home appliances. It is no wonder that they are regionally housed in underground facilities known as Toast Bunkers.  4 foot walls of concrete secure the outside world of the terror of the toast. Only fully certified  staff (who have all fill out forms 3b, 5c&f and 39.9, stamped by the three main departments of food preparation, open fire and heat regulation and have at least completed 2 courses in health and safety management) in bullet and fire-proof suits are allowed into the chambers, stretching out long tongs grasping quivering slices of incinerated bread…

No indeed, imagine what would happen if just anyone would own or operate a toaster in their homes, the Horror!

No madam, indeed… that kind of mis management could mean the end of the world as we know it…

Smell something?

On an alternative note…
Could you imagine a life without the smell of toast in the morning, with the occasional one including the mad rush to save a burning exemplar? (you know what kind of day it will be when you do, no?) Without the sense of danger of the occasional smell of fire and burnt toast we would surely all become cowardly or foolishly brave…
Can you imagine not having the childhood memory of your amazement while watching your father/mother pick out a burned piece of toast and scraping of the back bits with a knife? (and the mess that black stuff leaves in the sink…)

No indeed.
Better be Safe then Scrumptious..


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