Pesto is fucking clownshoes.
The first time I ate it, the green slop baffled me. There was pasta. There was this pesto. It tasted like floral bile. As if I had gone munchies in a flower shop and then heaved into a bowl of fusilli. Chomped through a wreath, some hospital bunches, one of those modern arrangements with banana leaf fronds and weird bamboo twirls; then puked.
I’m told everyone loves the stuff. There is jar after jar of this trash in the supermarket. There is recipe after recipe in magazines, upon The Information Superhighway, in books. Pesto recipes: Mama’s, Nonna’s, Tuscan’s, Sicilian’s, Red Injun’s, My Mate Kev The Gasman’s Pukka Pesto Gut Explosion.
Pesto is fucking clownshoes.
Pesto varietals: Rocket, four cheese, six cheese, dead nettle, crow leg, cow ball.
My recipe for pesto is as follows:
1- Jump off bridge.
2- Be dead.
Another thing which is/was clownshoes is/was the pop group, The Beautiful South. For a few years, a few years ago, every other song I heard was by them. Paul Heaton and that lady from ‘Birds Of A Feather’ crooned these strange songs at one another while dressed as Etam or Millets-The Hiking Specialists mannequins. The more I ponder on The Beautiful South, the weirder they appear. I do not know what genre of music they were. A strange slow paced ballady thing. I think of them as sort of droning but not in any art-rock sense. I think they sounded like the slow lowing of a British cow in a shopping centre carpark outside a ringroad somewhere North, somewhere shit.
They were just too odd to make up. Why name a song ‘Rotterdam’? What is missing in the human evolutionary journey to nudge a mind in the direction of a song named ‘Rotterdam’? Rotterdam. A punk song maybe. A gurning ranting screech over tin drums and an out of tune twenty quid guitar. ‘Rotterdam‘ by Das Brickshit or ‘Rotterdam‘ by Ein Wormlung Army.
RO’ER, RO’ER, RO’ER, RO’ER, RO’ERDAAAAAMMMM!
RO’ER, RO’ER, RO’ER, RO’ER, RO’ERDAAAAAMMMM!
ROTTAH DAM IS SHIT! DICKS!
Instead the lady from ‘Birds Of A Feather’ spends the song confusing Rotterdam with Liverpool or Rome and want’s to be at home, or thinks that she is alone, and loses her phone, and applies for a loan and probably digs in the loam, with the new HandyHike Multitool she got for free as part of the Millets/Beautiful South commercial opportunity link-up situation they had.
There are drums playing but they don’t do anything. Nothing does anything. Guitars are there because I’ve seen the guitarist’s fleece. Paul Heaton is there being all National Treasure (according to idiot music journalists who love lineage, and kitchen sink dramatists and Gruff Northern Poets) with his hands in his pockets and a wry aside for the insanely huge crowds they pulled to their ‘shows’. They weren’t playing to sheep, they were playing to fleeces. A gently swaying sea of Marks and Spencers fleeces. Always the slow lowing of a Friesian by a B & Q in some grey hinterland between England and Hell.
Only in this country could The Beautiful South be fucking vast. Our staple band. The most British band ever. Only in this greyscale Tescos of a country could they fill arenas full of us: nylon, tupperware, commercial radio, driveways and garden centre cafe gossips, all of us.
We’re all fucking clownshoes.
There is no snobbery here. Yes this does all read like an upper-middle class howitzer of sneer scorching the earth north of Lahndan. Indeed I type this from a Mac, in West Sussex. I use words like ‘indeed’. I’m as bad though. I’m probably worse. I just can’t leave these people alone can I? I cannot live and let live. I have to spit and gripe like a mouthy streetside bitter alky at everyone else’s enjoyment. So what if you want to kick back with some ‘B’South’. Why do retail parks irritate me? I use ‘em. I have emulsion needs on occasion. I have perused a trellis aisle in the rain and ummed and ahhed over a gravel choice. The late 1990s saw me bust out a solid Duffer of St George fleece performance. Garden centres; I’ve hit them up. Shrubbery and perennials, fat-balls for songbirds in winter and tins of boiled sweets from the counter, I have history. Indeed, I’m happy when I pour leftover casserole into a tupperware box to freeze and am secure in the knowledge that that lid ain’t leaking. Tupperware is a solid bit of kit. Indeed.
It’s staples which bug me. The consensus that this is what will happen, forever. It happens with food all the time. Staple dinners. Pesto.
Why is it such a staple?
“Aw, aw, aw. Aw kids just lohve pasto. Aw, aw, aw. We just lohve the clarsic pasto parsta”
Why? It tastes like gulch. Your children are idiots.
Risotto. It doesn’t matter which swanky rice you use. One for fish risotto, one for meat, one for vegetable. It’s all porridge. It ain’t ethereal, it’s not redolent of sweet Tuscany or the high plains of Milan, it’s Ready Brek with cheese in it. It can’t be ease of preparation that gives the stuff it’s high standing. The time and wrist hassle it takes to stir the motherfucker negates that angle. The vast history of Italian culinary endeavor, and we boil it down to boiled rice.
The only good risotto is made by my wife. It’s lush, but it’s only lush if you have it only say, twice a year. Any more than that and you are basically front row in the Hull Arena for a Beautiful South gig, wearing hiking boot/trainers and worrying that someone might break into your Ford saloon and nick your boiled sweets from the glove compartment.
The Only Risotto Ever Worth Eating: Serves 2 unless you have issues in which case cook two birds and go wild like Gloop at a birthday buffet.
A chicken and stuff to roast it with: Butter, carrots onion, garlic cloves, half a lemon, half a lemon
Half a bottle of cider
- Put lemon, garlic cloves and rosemary sprigs up the bird. Season fowl like you mean it.
- Butter the damn goose.
- Put in a tray on top of a few onions and carrots and a few more unpeeled garlic cloves
- Put it in the oven at about 200c for half and hour til it’s a bit brown then pour in the cider and give it another hour at 160c. I think that’s what I do. If I’m wrong, cook it til it won’t kill you dead.
- Take it out and rest the bird. Skim some, not all, the fat out of the tray and reduce the gravy til it looks like gravy. Strain it through a sieve and mash the vegetables as you go. This is gravy people, not jus so thick and bitty is the way.
- Eat roast chicken with stuff, potatoes and salad or whatever. Sunday lunch is crazy overrated.
- Don’t eat it all. Unless you are super greedy guts Happy Eaters, you will probably have all the leg meat and carcass meat left and a small pot of gravy. Let it cool and fridge that half gnawed beast until the next day.
- Get all the meat off the bones whilst singing ‘Dem Bones’ by Alice in Chains in your head and reserve. Throw the bones back in a hot oven until they are brown and smell like roast chicken again.
- Put the roasted bones in a pot of simmering chicken stock. Maybe another chopped carrot.
- Make a risotto with this bad ass chicken stock.*
*Find a risotto recipe someplace else y’all. I cannot do everything for you. The gist is: sweat onion, add rice, add wine and be annoyed you have to waste a glass of it into this bloody rice extravaganza, add liquid, stir for ages, get a tired wrist, get bored, add liquid, regret making it.
11. When the rice is cooked (either all toothy and chalky or all mushy and sloppy, no one agrees how it should be done, no one, so just cook it however you want to eat it) stir in the leftover chicken gravy and its accompanying fat and throw a load of parmesan in too.
12. Eat it. You can thank me later Clownshoes.