Do you know where the chicken’s from?” asked The Whistler’s food editor as we swung at the table at one of Brighton’s latest eateries. I’m used to this: it’s one of The Whistler’s food editor’s favourite questions.
“I’ve never been asked that before” said the waiter. It’s what they always say. “I’ll go and check. Any drinks in the meantime?”
A few minutes later, he came back, all tray and gin’n’tonic. “I asked in the kitchen and the chicken’s from Poland”.
Which seemed odd. Why would you buy your chicken from Poland? What’s wrong with British chicken? Did we fight The Brexit Wars for nothing?
The Whistler’s food editor looked at me and mentioned something about industrialisation and factories and broken legs – our waiter appeared not to hear that – and we ordered the aubergine.
We were going to talk about The Whistles, our new awards. We’ve been planning this for a while. I can’t tell you how many cups of coffee and digestives have gone into this. We’ve done role plays, dress rehearsals, all sorts. And now’s the time. People read magazines like this to get a bit of a steer, a guide, knowing what to do and where to go, what’s hot, what’s not… all that. And so it seemed the right thing to do to celebrate the good, to recognise the best. Thinking next year we might have a bit of a do, have awards made. The full red carpet.
So what are we looking for? What do you want when you go out to eat? Well, good food, obvs. But it’s more than that. You want heart and soul, imagination and verve, the beating pulse of passion. You also want somewhere that does things the right way, somewhere that puts welfare above profit, somewhere that knows animal welfare is paramount because eating an animal is hard enough – and don’t get The Whistler’s food editor on that subject. Before you can say “Another vodka please” you’ll be knee deep in a discussion on soil health, poo and hooves tramping the land – but how can you eat something you know who’s been tortured its truncated life? Just to save a few quid.
But, you know, maybe I’m just a cynical old Hector. Maybe Poland is the luxury holiday resort du jour for chickens. Maybe if we spoke chicken we’d hear conversations like “Where are you going this year? Mauritius again?”
“No, I’ve stopped flying. It’s terrible for the environment, Plus, they bred my wings out generations ago. This year I’m going to Poland. Hetty went last year and apparently it’s just lovely”. Maybe that’s what they would say. And maybe let’s not ask Hetty. Anyway. Here’s a picture of Pickle because that’s all a bit grim.
Check out page XX to see where readers of your Mighty Whistler rate the hottest of the hot. And next year, put a few quid on Bonsai Plant Kitchen. It’s not insider trading. It’s just… crystal ball time.