I could see him grimacing shortly after the meal was delivered.He caught my eye and impatiently gestured me over with a quick raise of his eyebrows and commanding jut of his chin.
'Is everything ok?' I say
'No.There's a piece of lead shot in my pheasant.'
'Oh I'm sorry about that but I'm afraid it does happen sometimes'
I didn't really take the complaint that seriously at this stage, I thought it was merely a comment,perhaps even a testament to the integrity of the meal.
'But I've nearly smashed my tooth!'
This is a tricky one,how does one 'nearly' smash a tooth?
'Is your tooth smashed?' I enquired
'Well, no but that's not the point,the point is you should be stating on your menu that the pheasant isn't FARMED!!!'
This threw me a bit.The only farmed pheasants I've heard of are the ones that are bred to be released into the wild for the sole purpose of being,guess what?Shot.
I stood there momentarily flummoxed and unable to come up with a suitable response.
'Well? Im not very happy,Im not happy at all'
He had removed the perfectly shaped piece of shot from his mouth and had it sitting on the napkin in front of him.
'Would you like something else instead?'I asked sadly.
'No,Id like to finish eating my pheasant.'
'Well just to let you know I cant guarantee that there won't be another piece of shot in there'
I moved away from the table and tried not to visibly wince as every mouthful of food was shovelled in.
As he ate his free hand furiously tapped his iphone no doubt googling Food Standards agency or worse still the dreaded T*atadvisor.
His pleasant companion who was also troughing on the pheasant was overheard to say 'Well,Its not the end of the world is it?'
As I went over to clear the plates(which were completely empty),and attempted to to pick up the napkin containing the offending piece of shot,a large hand came down firmly over mine.
'Leave that where it is-Im keeping it..'
No doubt as evidence,I await the inevitable 'shot' appearing on TA.
When the story was later related to the kitchen Chef sighed.'What the fark does he expect me to do? Shoot them down with a bow and arrow or better still chase through the countryside and suffocate them??.Some people just don't deserve nice things...'
There followed prolonged muttering that it was a shame it wasn't mallard or teal containing steel shot which might in fact have resulted in actual rather than feigned dental damage.
The theme of conversation rumbled on over lunchtime until the butcher arrived.
He too was in similar fettle having received a letter that morning from Food Services informing him of the latest directive that butchers in his retail outlet must change their coats in between serving raw and cooked meats.Can you imagine the practicalities in implementing this in a small rural shop with limited resources?Ok for Tesco with separate servers for raw and cooked,but imagine the queue in the butchers if you have to wait for them to get changed every time they serve someone?Just another nail in the coffin for the independent retailer.
The mood lightened somewhat with the arrival of news that Chefs best mate had bought his wife a steam mop for Christmas.As a surprise.
'Lets hope she's bought him a pair of armour plated undercrackers' said Chef..'I know exactly where that will be inserted..
Later that night we caught up with Masterchef. One of the contestants was cooking a venison dish accompanied by 'jelly ears'.Chef frowned and looked over at me.
'That's a Jews Ear,WTF are they calling them Jelly Ears for??'
'Its probably not politically correct'I say with a sigh.
'Why not?There's nothing offensive about it.'
(Other than the fact that they actually have the texture and taste of an ear)
Jews Ear were first known as Judas Iscariots Ear,later shortened to Judas' Ear,then evolving to Jews Ear.The origin being that the man himself allegedly hung himself on an elder tree and with these particular ear like fungi later found growing on the base of Elder trees the name was coined.This is quite an interesting little anecdote typical of the many historical and obscure facts which make up the personality and indeed the multi faceted heritage of life in general.What a shame they weren't allowed to share this on national telly.
Chef flicked channels in frustration.Just in time to catch the latest M & S Christmas food advert which actually looked fairly appealing until the sight of two lovely flutes being topped up with champagne filled the screen then spoilt the moment with the caption beneath ordering: 'over 18's only'.
'Bloody Hell' said Chef 'That's ridiculous.Before long we'll all be institutionalised, sitting munching on our farmed pheasant,probably puréed in case we choke ourselves,and ordering from generically written menus with numerous disclaimers at the bottom, the final caveat stating:
'NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED DURING THE COOKING OF THIS FOOD'
I think we need to get over ourselves don't we?