It started with an olive. The conversation went something like this:
“Why aren’t you eating your olives, Simon?”
“I don’t like them.”
“What? They’re delicious! How can you not like olives?”
“I just find them a bit… deceitful.”
“Yeah. You know – they sit there looking for all the world like grapes and you pick them up in anticipation of a sweet and juicy treat and you bite into a kind of rubbery bitterness. They’re fake, deceitful.”
Long, disbelieving pause.
“I find them quite sinister, actually.”
So the olive is the original sinister food. But there are others – so many, in fact, that I once jokingly created a chart for Jayne showing what I would and would not eat. It was a joke. But she stuck it on the kitchen wall anyway. And so the Index of Sinister Foods was born.
It’s not merely a list. It’s a graded list, with foods ranked in order of how sinister I find them. The sinister ranking starts with 1: ‘I’ll eat it but not particularly enjoy it” and works through four stages to 5: “I’m not even sitting at the same table with this food because it is so creepy and wrong.”
Top of the list is the olive, obviously. In fact, olives should probably have a category of their own. I don’t really have the words to describe what this category should be, but I know it’s there and it fills me with horror and disgust.
There’s no rationality or consistency to the Index of Sinister Foods. I dislike olives profoundly, but have olive oil on everything; I gag at the thought of tomatoes, but love Bolognese sauce. Actually, I used to have nightmares about tomatoes when I was a child. Cabbage is a no, unless it’s raw, merely blanched or lightly stir-fried; if it’s cooked beyond a point that is really quite impossible to define, it becomes sinister.
Asparagus is sinister, as is rhubarb. Rhubarb flavoured sweets are even more sinister. Raspberries are quite sinister. Aubergine is verging on very sinister. Anything involving a combination of chocolate and orange is manifestly sinister and it staggers me that anyone could think otherwise. Onions are mainly sinister, but not always. Then there are baked beans (wrong), tinned spaghetti (really wrong) – actually any kind of tinned food is wrong – mange touts (what the fuck are they?), spinach, chickpeas (except as humus, which is acceptable), porridge, tomato ketchup (really fucking sinister stuff, that) and the list goes on.
Consider this an introduction to the Index of Sinister Foods. There will be more…
- The deceitful olive
- Chocolate pear cake violates the laws of nature
- A brief conversation with Jayne on the subject of double-yolked eggs
- Help! I’m stuck in Whole Foods with a loaf of posh bread and a creeping sense of paranoia
- What’s your sinister food?