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JENNY ECLAIR PONDERS 2016’S CURIOUS COCKTAILS & DIRTY FOODS

Camberwell comedian Jenny Eclair contemplates the fads and fashions that lay in wait for us in 2016

So then 2016, what’s on the horizon? What fads and fashions are we all going to be suckered into this year? What peculiar cocktails shall we be drinking and out of what sort of receptacles? Surely it’s time for even Shoreditch to ditch the jam jar?

What will be the new ‘dirty food’? Last year we saw the reinvention of the hot dog, and apparently this year it’s going to be gourmet kebabs and baked potatoes with a twist. I’m not sure how you can put a twist on a potato but apparently it’s all about the filling – raclette cheese and roast artichoke, anyone?
In terms of gourmet gadgets, 2015 gave us the spiralizer, which came in two forms – a cheap handheld, semi-useless version, and an expensive space-wasting semi-useless version. The trouble with the spiralizer is that it promises so much, but only really works with courgette, hence the veggie dish of the year, ‘courgetti’, a carb-free pasta alternative that stops being healthy the second you slather it in pesto in an attempt to make it edible.

What will be the new ‘dirty food’? Gourmet kebabs? Baked potatoes with a twist?

Pulled pork continued to be big news and we all made vile scraping noises with our cutlery as we battled to eat off slates and roof tiles. Chips were served in tweed flat caps and, on one memorable occasion, I was offered tripe cooked three ways on a herb-encrusted skateboard. OK, so I made that last one up. But I’m not kidding when I say that after an extensive stand-up tour of the UK over the past couple of months, the winner of the Killer Regional Dish of the Year is… the notorious ‘parmo’ from Teesside. This deep-fried breaded chicken cutlet, topped with a béchamel sauce and cheese, is said to have been introduced to the North East by a chef from the American army who was injured in the Second World War and treated in a British hospital.

I’m not sure exactly what the chef’s injuries were, but should you choose to introduce the parmo to your diet as a regular treat, then prepare to hear your arteries clogging up while the buttons pop off your trousers, because this greasy, cheesy feast – served with chips, no less – adds up to a whopping 2,600 calories per portion! It’s a good job I only did a couple of nights up in the North East, because if I’d had many more parmo nights, I wouldn’t be able to fit through my own front door!

Just as delicious but a lot less fattening than the parmo is The Amazing World MC Escher exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery. I have to confess that I was semi-dragged along to this, anticipating lots of tedious optical-illusion trickery, but it’s glorious – both precise and other-worldly. I thought at most I might be impressed by it, but I never expected to be moved. Treat yourself, then have a walk around Dulwich Park, where suddenly you will see Escher-style patterns in every bird and fallen leaf.

Oh yes, and have a very Happy New Year!

FIND MORE OF JENNY ECLAIR’S COLUMNS HERE

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