Slaying the Dragon of Tradition with the Sword of My Grandfathers While Wearing an Outfit Covered in Bells

If you do a thing often and long enough, you can go around saying it’s what you’ve always done, even though that’s probably hyperbole. If you teach your kids to do it, then you can go around saying it’s a tradition, which is a handy shorthand for “I don’t really think about why I do this any more, but I’ve invested so much time into doing it that I don’t want to have to go around start doing something different now, it would be a real ballache”. For those readers who love their logic but don’t know the words for logic things, this is a classic sunk cost fallacy.

Most of the time you can get away with calling something a tradition because it’s fun or it looks nice. Morris dancing, really big churches with gargoyles and columns and stuff, and chasing rolls of cheese down a hill are all excellent examples of this, depending on your definitions of ‘looks nice’ and ‘fun’. Often, your traditions might be downright silly but nice looking or fun, like morris dancing, really big churches with gargoyles and columns and stuff, and chasing rolls of cheese down a hill. Did you know that in Aylesbury they have an annual Running of the Ducks, ripping off Pamplona’s more dangerous bull-based event but adding a dose of fine English injury-free sensibleness? It’s things like that that make my heart stir with pride for my homeland.

The problem strikes when people mistake the fact that they’ve done something for ages and they think it looks nice for any kind of sensible argument at all. Fox hunting, refusing to let gay people get married and deciding that women should take their husband’s name are all defended under the big banner of tradition, which for some reason has to be the end of the argument.

“Don’t you think that gay couples deserve to be treated by the State in the same way as their heterosexual friends?” you might ask of this imaginary straw man I’ve just conjured up. (That’s logic term number two, there, logic fans who don’t know the name of logic things).

“Oh, yes, of course I do,” replies Jerry Strawman. “But marriage is for straight people, isn’t it? I mean, it’s traditional. You can’t go around changing traditions. Where would we be?”

“We’d be in a place where couples of all possible sexual orientation and combination can enjoy the same rights, responsibilities and protections in exchange for going to the same registry office and paying a flat fee for a certificate and some licensed person to say a few words about love and stuff.”

“Well, that does sound good, but tradition!”

“It’s a stupid tradition,” you can respond.

“Traditioooooooooooooooon!” he’ll wail.

“It’s a tradition that’s making vast numbers of people wildly unhappy,” you can point out.

“Traditioooooooooooon!” he’ll come back with. “If two men get married, who’s going to change their surname? Imagine the logistical difficulty of it! Society would collapse!”

“Look,” you’ll say. “Look, Jerry Strawman. Why do any married couples have to change names? What’s the point in it?”

He’ll moo in response this time. “Traditiooooooooon.”

That’s probably all you’ll ever get out of him, mostly because he’s a fictional construct I’ve knocked together during an episode of Seinfeld, and therefore he’s unreflective of even the most simple-minded opponents of, y’know, clever progress and stuff. But that’s ok, because my broad-strokes point is made. Tradition is dumb, at best. It’s an aesthetic argument.If all we did was cling to tradition, we’d all go around being racists, having more wars and growing our own crops. And I really can’t be having with all the crop-growing. Or the wars. Or the racism. If your pros and cons for doing something are exactly equal, then you can consult The Big Book Of Tradition to see what you should do. Otherwise, throw tradition out of the window. Tradition is just a code word for “we’ve been doing this for so long that we’ve stopped thinking about why.”


Pie Are Squared

The best thing about pies is that they exist. The beautiful, delicious bastards. The worst thing about pies is that they exist, thus taunting all the other foodstuffs with perfection they can’t possibly hope to achieve. Another worst thing about pies is that Americans don’t realise you can put meat in them. I read an article on Time magazine’s website around Thanksgiving once, proudly proclaiming to be about to drop some truth bombs on you with a list of things you never knew about pies. Number four was that you could put meat in them. It was then that I knew I would never truly belong there, unless I opened a pie shop and ¬†converted them forcibly. Sadly, there’s been a bit of a kerfuffle about the last load of European cultural exports to that continent, so pies might be the camel-back breaking straw.

Unless the above happens. Nobody can resist food with a moustache. It screams manliness, respectability, and a complete failure to respect society’s civilized rules. Fuck you, says moustache-food. Fuck you, society. I’m going to make my own rules and be a maverick and stuff. You can’t stop me, society. Don’t even try.

Would you like to know how to make a fantastic pie like this? The kind of moustachioed food that won’t take no for an answer? Well, I can’t tell you. It’s not my recipe. It belongs to the top-notch pie makers at Pieminister¬†and is straight out of their recipe book, so it would be churlish of me to nick their recipes after they’ve given me so much pastry-covered joy. All I can tell you is that this is chilli con carne squared. Or rectangled. Or pied.

It’s a chilli con carne pie, is what I’m saying. Just take a few minutes there to let it finish completely blowing your mind. Look at this picture. Look at it!


That is what the inside of heaven looks like. Cut away from the rest of heaven and then put on a plate with some mashed potato. Take a vague food-porn photo of it and then watch Nathan Barley with the last bottle of Innis and Gunn in the Co-Op where someone tried to chug you earlier by the exit door. People shouldn’t be allowed to chug inside shops, that’s just taking the piss. Especially when they’re standing under a sign advertising Co-Op membership cards. It’s almost as though they cunningly stood under that sign on purpose to mislead people.

Anyway, eat more pies, Americans. Proper ones, where you make your own pastry and spend hours creating the perfect filling. Once we’re off the subject of other people’s pie recipes, I’ll probably blog a few of my own to get you started. I’m almost certain I could convert my infamous mango-banana-chicken casserole into pie form. Would that suit your insatiable demand for knowledge, internet? Would it?

The Cowards of the Hot Sandwich World


Do you feel those pangs of hunger, have no desire to go to the shop, and need to use up those chicken breasts before they go off? Then this post is for you. Everyone else can fuck off. Unless you think you might want chicken burgers later. You can stick around, kiddo! Sorry for the telling you to fuck off. I get a bit high strung.

You will need:

Two chicken breasts – chickens are such delicious feathery cowards. But all of our farmed meat animals are cowards, now I think of it. We’re such food-bullies, always picking on the little guy.

Some bread in which to eat your burgers. Or a knife and fork if you’re on the Atkins. But you shouldn’t be, it’s nonsense. Anyway, don’t let me catch you using your fingers to eat non-sandwiched burgers. This is a civilized blog.

Some more bread to make breadcrumbs out of. One slice ought to do it. You should probably use that rubbish one at the end of the roll that’s all crust. You know the one. The sly bastard.

A couple of eggs – I like to use chicken ones, to continue the chickeny theme. But you can use duck, ostrich, puffin or platypus ones if you prefer.

Cornflour and ordinary plain flour – a bit thereof. Don’t worry about it, why does everything have to be so specific with you? Christ, it’s like that time we drove up to Scotland and you wouldn’t shut up about how soon we had to get off the motorway.

Time required: The back end of one episode of the Simpsons, then the whole episode following it, then the first few minutes of an episode of Futurama. The one where they first go down into the sewers and meet the mutants. Did you know Leela’s parents are in one of the crowd scenes, two seasons before their first spoken lines?

Serves two or one greedy idiot.

Right, let’s get cracking. 1) Take your chicken breasts and place them between two sheets of baking paper. Grab a rolling pin or special meat hammer and whack those bad boys flat. Imagine they have the face of one of those idiots on the bus who plays the thump-thump-thump music on their phones.

2) Separate the first egg. Chuck away the yolk, it’s not for the likes of you. Now whisk the white into a tablespoonish of the cornflour. Brush it all over your chicken. No, you missed a spot. There you go.

3) Stick the chicken in the fridge and put the kettle on. While it’s boiling, crack the second egg into a bowl. Over another bowl, hold the piece of bread and rip a piece off, like you’re a dictator explaining to an enemy how you’ll destroy his armies. Then render it into breadcrumbs by crushing it between finger and thumb, like a dictator explaining how he will grind his enemies into dust. Repeat until you’re out of bread.

4) The kettle’s boiled. Make a brew, and for Christ’s sake let it brew properly. People who make weak tea have soft, weak minds.

5) Get a frying pan on the hob, splash in a bit of olive oil and turn it on to medium-highish. Probably a 5 on the standard 1 – 6 electric hob scale. People with gas hobs can stop showing off and work it out for themselves.

6) Retrieve the chicken from the fridge and sprinkle with plain flour. Now dip those floury bird breasts in the eggy bowl first, then the breadcrumy one.


8) Put the octopus back in the tank and put the chicken in the pan, cooking for about 5 or 6 minutes each side. Some people might tell you that you should cut the chicken in half to make sure it’s done, but those people are treating you like you’re about five years old and are probably very sexually unadventurous.

9) Serve in the other bread, with whatever salad and stuff you happen to have in the house. Slices of cheese are good, you can drop them on top of the chicken when it’s in the pan. I used grated, which was stupid as it all fell off and got melted into the pan. I’m an idiot.

Enjoy! You might try serving with potato wedges or chips (like that thought hadn’t occurred to you) or if, like me, your landlord came round while you were out to fix your oven door and took it away, you could grill a field mushroom or something. I don’t know, what am I, Captain Serving Suggestion?