Monday, 13 December 2010

Food Urchin Meets The Manchester Egg

It was a cold, cold night in London town. Too cold for some. Commuters scatter the icy streets, muffled, swathed and haunched over like brass monkeys with a lot to lose. But not the Food Urchin. No. He simply stands there, outside Moorgate tube station, resolute. The elements cannot waver him for his heart beats strong, keeping him warm. And plus he is wearing a trinca hat from BHS, that keeps him warm too. They look ridiculous on some people. But not the Food Urchin. He looks cool. Too cool for school.

The Food Urchin is waiting for his crew, as usual they are late. He looks at his watch, shakes his head and sighs. When you head out with the Food Urchin, it doesn't pay to be late. People are slacking, losing respect, heads will roll. The Babe from Burma finally turns up, says "Hi" but she's engrossed in her Blackberry, work stuff apparently. The Food Urchin simply tuts, see no respect. They wait for another 5 minutes or so and eventually the new kid on the block arrives, The Macaron Kid. This is the first time the Food Urchin has met him. He sniffs at the offer of a handshake and fixes the Macaron Kid with a steely glare before saying "I hear you're pretty handy with a whisk". The Macaron Kid raises an eyebrow and responds with "you better believe it". The Food Urchin smiles and thinks to himself 'cocky, arrogant, a little too self-assured maybe but yeah this fella has got spunk, I like that in a man.'

It's time to move, off the busy lit thoroughfare of Moorgate and into the dark, seedy back streets heading towards Shoreditch. As he strides down the eerie alleyways, cloaked in shadow, the Food Urchin senses nerves, trepidation behind him. He turns and reassures his crew that he knows exactly where they are going. The Food Urchin is a Londoner born and bred and knows these mean streets like the back of his hand. The shivering pair nod and begin to apologise for their lack of faith. The Food Urchin holds his hand up for he is also a humble man, turns and carries on walking. Keeping the iPhone he has cradled in his hand out of view. Before long, the Food Urchin realises they've taken a wrong turn, facking GPS. But the others need not know.

After some negotiation and back tracking, the Food Urchin gang find their destination, the Griffin, a den of iniquity, full of ragtag Nathan Barleys and other new meeja types. As the gang enters through Victorian glazed doors, the bar suddenly falls silent and all eyes focus towards them. The Food Urchin steps forward and takes off his trinca revealing that signature, shiny dome and fiercely eyeballs everyone back. Be it recognition or folklore, the room palpably quivers with fear. "Yeah, you guessed it, I'm the facking Food Urchin, anyone got a problem with that?" The silence continues but then slowly and surely the hubbub resumes. The Hoxton crowd are used to nutters walking in off the street. The Food Urchin leads the gang through the melee of drinkers and so-called thinkers and spots them, sat around a table in the corner of the room. The people they are here to meet. The other crew, The Boys from The North.

Alliances has been uneasy in the past so to break the ice, the Food Urchin walks right up to the table, extends his hand and shouts "ey oop chuck, how do? it's sweating cobbs in here, yeah sound". The Boys from The North, who are a marginally better looking version of the Happy Mondays, stare back with pained frowns. Ben Cahoona, leader of The Boys, in particular doesn't look happy. Slowly he stands up from his stool and walks over. Ben glowers as he approaches and when finally nose to nose, he spits "What are you going on about you prat?" But the Food Urchin doesn't falter. He knows to show weakness at this stage of proceedings would be catastrophic so he stands his ground and is grateful for deciding to wear black underwear that day. You could cut the tension in the air with a plastic spoon. Ben then cracks a shit eating grin and embraces the Food Urchin like a long lost brother. It's a beautiful moment and collectively the Griffin breathes a huge sigh of relief.

Drinks are ordered and both crews settle down to high jinks, bonhomie and conversation about Satan's Shit. Over several shots of tequila, the Food Urchin regales the first time he met Ben Cahoona and the boys back in the summer. The various houses of the food mafia had convened at the Ramada Piccadilly in Manchester to try and iron out some differences, heal old wounds and discuss the future and the Food Urchin was there to reprazent the Brotherhood of Bloggers. "Ha, that social media workshop you led Ben was well bitching man, we well had that Matthew Fort against the ropes innit" bellows the Food Urchin, clicking his fingers, rocking back and forth, laughing like a crazed hyena. Ben just sniffs, looks into his glass and mutters something about the after show party. Something about the embarrassment of watching Lloyd Grossman rock out like your Dad at a wedding reception.

The Food Urchin then decides that it's time to get down to business and asks to see the merchandise. It's time to see the Manchester Egg. Fervent glances are made around the room and a crumpled brown paper bag is produced from a coat pocket and placed on the table. At first there is concern amongst the Boys that the goods have been damaged in transit, coming down on the train. The Babe from Burma and the Macaron Kid look equally concerned that they're about to eat something that has just been produced from someones pocket. In a brown paper bag. The Food Urchin isn't worried however, he eats from other people's pockets all the time. Luckily four eggs are deemed to be in good condition and Ben proceeds to give a sales pitch so smooth and slick that you almost believe that he's sold this shit thousands of times before. The Food Urchin begins to tug uncomfortably on his collar but thankfully the presentation is short. The plans for this alternative scotch egg are quite lofty, to make it a familiar feature in pubs and bars across the land. To make the Manchester Egg a pub snack unrivalled. The Food Urchin thinks for a minute and then asks, "so how are you going to spread the word?" Ben simply replies, "I'm going to open source the recipe, what do you think?" The Food Urchin nods sagely for a moment, stroking his chin before offering a piece of his wisdom. "I tell you what, why don't you just give the recipe away?" Silence descends again and tumbleweed rolls across the pub floor.

Uncomfortable coughs are made before someone pipes up and suggests the Food Urchin and his crew try the egg. The Food Urchin claps his hands. "Now we're talking!" But then another stumbling block becomes apparent. The Boys from The North have forgotten to bring a knife to the party. Which is fair enough. One of the decrees made at the Summit in the summer was that at meets, gangs should leave all utensils at home. Even spatulas with heat resistant silicone. Ben goes to the bar to ask for the lemon knife but the barman refuses and who could blame him but then the Food Urchin remembers that he's carrying. After fishing around in his rucksack, he is able to produce a small paring knife with a flourish. Except the others, including his own crew, watch agog and shake their heads in disapproval. "What? I used this when I went mushroom picking a couple of months ago. S'ok I don't carry all the time, tsk." Some people.

Finally the Manchester Eggs are sliced up for photographising and consumption and the Food Urchin digs in first, the others know to wait their turn. Hierarchy is important. Always eat after the top dog has taken his share. The egg takes the Food Urchin by surprise. This is the dude who once ate 10 scotch eggs in one sitting so he knows his stuff but the Food Urchin has never encountered this particular kind before. Crispy, crunchy textures. Rich, pulsating blood sausage. And the somewhat alien tang of the egg. What is that? Just what is that tang? Then sweat starts to seep through his crown. For the Food Urchin this is the sure fire signal that he's eaten something vinegary. Like Smiths Square Crisps. Or pickled onions. Or pickled eggs even. The penny drops."Hey you've used pickled eggs! Wow! That's really different! Wow, cor, hey, hey you guys, he's made these with pickled eggs!" The Babe from Burma and the Macaron Kid roll their eyes at the Food Urchin's vigourous pointing as if this was something they didn't already know. Still they nod in agreement confirming that this is an unexpectedly good snack.

Regaining his composure, the Food Urchin straightens up and wipes his hands and takes a slug of beer. "How many can you ship?" he barks, taking command of the situation. When it comes down to business, the Food Urchin knows how to lay it on and impose his authority. "Er well, like I said, you can make these at home, I'll pass the recipe on", Ben counters. Without skipping a beat the Food Urchin snarls,"Listen sunshine I'm not in the habit of getting my hands dirty in the kitchen, I leave that to the missus, you know what I mean? Now can you get me 2000 by next week?" Ben seems confused. "What you want to sell them? Well yeah that's fine because I want to promote the Manchester Egg, you know put it on the map as a regional delicacy. And like I said the recipe will be open to all and sundry. I just need to make sure you're making them right so what I like to do is come down and taste them, you know give 'em a stamp of approval."

At this point the Food Urchin goes totally Bob Hoskins.

"Listen you facking muppet, I ain't facking interested in what the recipe is or ain't or facking what. You just get me my facking eggs, down 'ere and on facking time. Is that alright treacle? Am I facking crystal? Right you two herberts, we gotta get moving. Some speccy fridge freezer in Islington is going to sell us some E's. Or summink like that. Ladies, it's been a privilage but you can all fack off now"

And with that the Food Urchin storms out of the pub. Despite the mumurs of dissent and subsequent apologies from inside, the Food Urchin stands outside in the freezing cold air, grinning to himself. This is how the shit goes down in the world of food and this is how the Food Urchin keeps it real. Real on the mean streets of London town.

The Manchester Egg

Don't fack with the Food Urchin

(photo's courtesy of Meemalee's Kitchen)

9 comments:

Kavey said...

hee

Rachel at Catalan Cooking said...

You are riily rilly scray by the way pal. And ah should know. Ahm Rabies Rachel. AND Ahm pals wi' Michelle 'mackerel' Adu

Nick Baines said...

haha, love it. Those eggs sound really good, even if they were pocket-warm.

FlavourSmash said...

A thoroughly imaginative take on the evenings proceedings! I love it.

Miss Cay said...

Mad props to the London Massive. I'm in Manchester practically every week and I've still not gotten my chops around one of these babies yet. Loved the write-up though (and the comedy pictures).

meemalee said...

And at least 50% of this actually happened.

Seriously, I have been crying with laughter - you have outdone yourself, FU.

Luv,

The Babe from Burma

Lisa said...

Nuff respec' blood, you is 'ard innit?

They look absolutely gorgeous. You yourself look mighty fine in that photo too. I wouldn't take you on. No.

Pavel said...

I'm intrigued, I'll have to give these a go... I'm planning on getting a deep fryer in the new year so I might do a Scotch Egg fest or summink... Also... How long has Stefan Gates been a dealer? It's always the quiet ones... he seems so nice an all that!

Food Urchin said...

Kavey - you hee-ing the Food Urchin? Do I look like I'm facking larfing? Do I?

Rachel - that's what I like to see, respeck, innit.

Nick Baines - the Food Urchin is now pondering the egg's 'warmness'...shit man they must have been right next to his sweaty bollocks!

FlavourSmash - glad you liked my tale but nuffin was imaginary, nuffin!

Miss Cay - yeah booshaka to you beeyotches in the North, I might move there.....one day

Meemalee - it all happened, what are you trying to say? eh? EH?

Lisa - yeah the egg was mighty fine just like the Food Urchin

Pavel - psst.... that Stefan Gates scares the shit out of me man, he can like make fire out of custard powder and everything.