Category Archives: Hungry Mumbo

Taco Night

Tacos crop up in lots of American films.

‘What kind of inordinate pleasure would unfold if we made them at home?’ I thought, and shared this with the kids.

‘Tacky’s?’ said Rufus.


I feel sorry for Mexicans because of the way they get patronised.* (*that’s a ‘cute’ sentence; it’s wearing a beard and a buttoned-up plaid shirt.)

Stereotypes don’t flatter but the comical, lazy and short version dumped at the modern Mayans’ door never seems to get balanced with any better stuff.

Salma Hayek’s killing herself out there- a lone wolf battling the legacy of Speedy Gonzalez.

(Tangent: I thought Speedy was a kick-back character against the slow thing. I thought he might spawn Wolfgang the towel-folding pool attendant, or Pierre the garlic-hating vampire. Apparently he sprang from a joke about a Mexican man’s overly-eager bedroom performance. Man, do the Mexis get a bad rap.)

It’s hard to think of another country so comprehensively theme-wrapped; are Tex-Mex restaurants a result of this phenomenon or a contributory factor?

Historically, the only ones who chose these places for an evening were the maid of honour or best man who did the block booking.

They were a blur of Ay Caramba! throat-throttling music and Aztec dyed wall hangings, offset by the promise of salted margarita vorp.

Every item on the menu was a flour tortilla re-appearing Mr Benn-styley wrapped, crispy or deep-fried in cheese depending on your preference of heart attack- genius hangover food consumed while you’re in the throes of assembling one.

Take re-fried beans (and eat them; go on, just for a dare).

They manage to make something already inspirationally disagreeable and dial it up a notch.

Why did they stop there? Why wouldn’t ‘poo-marinated re-fried beans’ have worked harder towards another round of licking salt off your boyfriend’s neck only to marginally miss re-introducing tequila soup over it later in bed?

Anyway, there’s really no need to venture out for this kind of experience because Old El Paso have got it sewn up. In fact, you could say they’ve cornered the market; their trusty red and yellow food kits are available everywhere, including dry cleaners.


Ahh, Old El Paso. Makes you want to smile just by-passing them on the food aisle every day for 10 years.

But not this week-end! On Saturday night, nostalgia won over. Today these leedle suckers, they come-a back-a to the casa wi me,’ I chortled to myself light of spirit in Tesco.

There’s not strictly speaking all that much inside Old El Paso boxes. They’re only that big so there’s space to fit in all the acidity regulators on the list of ingredients. If you turn off the lights the tough little casings glow in the dark.

Lock the kids in a cupboard so you can listen very carefully, and you’ll hear them singing a corrupt Mexican lullaby.

There were fajita building units too, though without the sizzling centrepiece skillet I knew there would be an excitement shortfall.

I also balked at the reconstituted guacamole possibly devised in the presence of an avocado but not necessarily inclusive of one (a large specimen of the Hass variety, for example, given an authoritative role as the substitute contents parade by: ‘Copydex? Yes.’ ‘Bile? Ok. ‘Psoriasis flakes?’ Wouldn’t be the same without them.’)

I darted between soured cream, tomatoes, grated cheese, limes and lettuce like Dale Winton doing Supermarket Sweep in a poncho.

I actually left with enough food to construct another winning development of luxury homes in Hammersmith (and with mostly the right materials).

And so it was I became that special kind of arse that feels the need to parcel every experience for kids as an event, in adherence with the secular commandment that they’re too numbed to enjoy something that can’t be made into a WordPress blog post.

TACO NIGHT was born and I knew it was going to be successful because we’ve got a pair of maracas and a wide-brimmed hat that’s been waiting all its life under the stairs for this opportunity.

I was going to bring Central America to W3. I was going to prop our desperate little evening. I probably wasn’t going to dress up as Frida Kahlo but, ‘See, kids, Mummy does ‘fun’. I told you I did, didn’t I? I did tell you that.’

Clock forward a few hours and the fiesta’s in the can, from whence barely 50% of it came.

The table’s a wreckage, strewn with the unsuccessful transportation of toppings to shell.

There was some anxiety about getting the ratio of guac to salsa wrong or, worse, forgetting the sprinkled cheese altogether on one of your ‘go’s’.

The jalapeno peppers were missed (forsaken because the overwhelming remainder would inevitably calcify in the fridge).

The powder-enhanced mince was tasty and if it rang of Soylent Green at all, you just put that out of your mind.

The re-fried beans- Sweet Jesus, the re-fried beans; the kids warned they’d issue a restraining order on them if necessary.

They aped solidified diarrhoea in appearance, tasted like a Bushtucker trial and used their unmistakable scent to falsely advertise the imminent satisfaction of a dog’s appetite: a 360 degree sensory experience of unparalleled invidiousness.

But overall, it was a minor novelty sensation.

Geth was the architect of structurally sound taco towers, with shredded lettuce roof terraces; Bruno discovered (and wore) his new favourite food; Rufus didn’t understand what the hell was going on but gave a nod to the deconstructed serving approach; and I got indigestion by taking incessant photographs but mostly enjoyed the inordinate pleasure unfolding.

2024 we’ll be back: Ariba, ariba! Andale, andale!


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Gingerbread Apron Dreams

Have you ever thought it would be nice for gingerbread men to be able to offer something extra?

Nor me, until I had a dream.

I dreamed that in the same way an ice-cream seems like enough until you’re offered a fancy cone with sprinkles and bits of Oreo on top, so a ginger man could be bringing something more to the party.

Maybe over his tummy smarties he could be wearing an apron stuffed with extra sweets or a toy or an improving message to your child about their homework.

There would be a whole rack of aprons next to the ginger man till filled with different options but as the eco-friendly sort you would re-cycle your man’s apron and put different things in it each time.

They might look like this (note that even with an adjustable strap, the wider-necked ginger gentleman (less refined, more refined sugar, bottom right) may be forced to wear his apron as a pinnie):



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Supermarket sonnet

Take me down the fruit aisle

And shower me in berries

I want to laugh in pineapples

Be drowned in praise


Then judge me with the veg

Be harsh but fair

Set me against a parsnip

See what I can do


Make mooing sounds

And I will lie in dairy

Munch on the grass

I’ll do a length in milk


I want brown sauce and red sauce

But not at the same time

Am saving that filth

For High Tea


Slice it thick and wafer thin

Fashion suggestive little lardons

Inspire me to scamper through Delia

Flicking my pinny


Leave the head on that fish

I like to see it wincing

And spitting at the crab sticks

Faking their way over the ice


Hear me tiptoe in the spices

Affecting well-bred sneezes

Wait for my curvy porn

To spill over in Premium Biscuits


And, then, my Sunny Delight

Illuminating Monday

With your flashing teeth

Your hopeful call-outs


Stash those loyal muthafuckas

On my Nectar card

And watch me pirouette



Filed under Hungry Mumbo, Mumbo Life, Mumbo poems

Pork Week, Seattle, March 2009


Once upon a time, around the turn of the 21st Century, there was an American boy from the South, who found himself living in the Pacific Northwest.

A good thing.

Because there was an American girl from the East, who found herself living there too and they needed to meet and fall in love.

The boy spun yarns from his travels on a laptop and played crazy tunes on his decks.

The girl spun frocks from her yarns on a sewing machine and turned her hair all sorts of crazy colours.

But there was unrest.

For boys from the South like to eat meat on a grill, while folk from the Northwest eat fish in the pan.

What was a boy to do?

Did he lower himself into the kitchens of carnivores on the multi-coloured plaits of his lover?

Did he journey home on a Bar-B-Q pilgrimage?

Did he retreat to a corner to nibble on pea vines?

No, he did not.

He asked not what his cravings could do for him but what he could do for his cravings.

He resolved to celebrate the unloved.

He crusaded to bring awareness to the forsaken.

Long live the even-toed ungulate!

He started the tradition of Pork Week, creating an annual Piggy Party.

From far and wide the gluttonous gathered, bringing Babe bites in every imaginable guise…

When piggy took a dip in a vodka bath he made BLT-inis with a gherkin twist and many were robbed of the power of speech.


When piggy took a stroll in chocolate then a roll in maple syrup he created a Bacon Brownie Bake.

He seemed so right yet so wrong, in a supermodel-wearing-a-bacon-g-string kind of way.


And when piggy simmered in his own fat in pork rillettes the arteries of a crowd tensed and screeched, ‘Sweet Jesus, make it stop!’


Night after night the Pork Kids raved on.

No pig paraphernalia too perky!

No porky pranks too playful!

Going ‘wee, wee, wee!’ all the way home to Hog Heaven.

Pork tacos, Kalua pig, ‘Get-a husband-stew’, shredded pork rolls, prosciutto maize wraps and on and on and on until their Jewish friends wrinkled up their noses and made loud snorting sounds.

But when the feast was over and the guests had gone what next for our Pork lovers?

The restless boy, could he sustain his sizzling salacious streak?

Would not his passion get the chop?

His pretty piglet, did she have no spare rib to tickle?

Were not her pig-skin coats a mite too hairy for her tiny frame?

What pig-headed preposterousness!

For of all the animals in all the kingdom it is known so well the piggy is insatiable:

The swine it dines on mud and laughter,

Our lovers pigged happily ever after.



The Potluck Porktacular Gala Dinner Toast:

We’re gathered together to eat and drink wine,

For the Porktacular gala dinner 2009

But there’s an absent guest we need to toast

We love him in stews, in rillettes, in roasts,

We love him shredded, in BLT’s, in bakes,

In tacos, with cabbage, crostinis and cakes

We love him baked in the oven, wrapped around maize

We love him in vodka, where he’s been bathing for days

We love that he’s pink and stinky and surly,

He’s noisy and messy, his tail is too curly,

He’s greedy and snouty but friendly too,

Beautiful piggy, this week is for you!

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MasterChef: The Other Final


John: Gregg, this Final has taken the premium Waitrose biscuit.

Quite the most extraordinary moments of erotic gastronomy ever to have been jiggled in a MasterChef climax.

Gregg: I couldn’t agree more. The whole series has been a money shot. I’m toe-curlingly sated. I could even do some cuddling right now.

John: But this isn’t for sissies- let’s be clear about that, Gregg.

Cooking Doesn’t Get Tougher Than This. Have I mentioned that already?

Gregg: It’s not actually possible to repeat that often enough. This show could be called ‘Hardcore Fascist Food’.

There’s absolutely nothing gay about it.

John: Tell me, what did you think of Diane?

Gregg: I think I’d give her one. She’s tasty. I like her cleavage.

John: But what about that dish?

When I saw her seducing the pureed Aboriginal broccoli onto a bed of sun-kissed celeriac effluvium I thought Mamma Mia was staging an impromptu matinee in my boxer shorts.

Gregg: I’m with you, John.

As soon as the spoon made contact with the back of my mouth the only thing I could think of was the Mother Superior singing ‘Climb Ev’ry Mountain’ in The Sound of Music.

Then there was a smooth sweetness kick-boxing my pleasure receptors, followed by the all-over body sensation of Cheryl Cole giving me a round-the-world wearing a pair of Dalmatian puppy gloves.

Suddenly, I was Rick Astley.

John: But you can’t ignore Brian. He’s ugly, I know, but the man lives food.

Gregg: His denim butter hair-pin pasties made me want to talk about nipple cream with Debbie McGee in a sage-green Bristol car.

John: What a morris-dancing, supercilious combination.

Christ, I’m almost angry.

Gregg: And the bergamot thumbprints? Was he having a laugh?

Did he want an ejaculation to thin out the sauce?

John: Right, I’ll be conjuring that one up in bed for at least a fortnight.

Gregg: Now, we need a moment’s silence for Luigi.

John: Struth, is he the Messiah?

Gregg: Or just a very naughty boy- he’s ruined food for me forever.

John: Unless he moves into my bedroom and re-creates nightly the pan-stroked carpet of marsupial cheese giblets I’m going to moon Smithfields and become a software engineer.

Gregg: What, I mean what, can you say about it?

John: Nothing. I’ve run out of adjectives.

I’d need to start touching you to communicate what that did to my taste buds.

Gregg: So Luigi’s the winner, right?

John: He’s been on a journey, for sure. The first day he was here he asked me what the oven was for.

Plus he’s got that rarest of ingredients.

Gregg: A goose’s golden egg?

John: No: he’ll give good press.


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Chocolate snob Dad

Dad: Ooh, what’s this? A present?

Son: Open it! Open it!

Dad: Mmm, smells like Daddy’s favourite. Is it, could it be… chocolate?

Son: Yes, Daddy, yes!

Dad: Hold on a minute, though. This looks like milk chocolate.

That’s not strictly speaking Daddy’s favourite now, is it?

Son: All chocolate favourite, Daddy.

Dad: Yes, you’re right. Silly Daddy. Let’s have a look.

Oh. Thornton’s.

Son: Why Daddy look sad?

Dad: Well, you know how there are children at nursery and some are really special and you want to be their friend?

And some are quite naff and have horrible clothes?

Son: No, Daddy. I don’t understand.

Dad: Of course you don’t. These things don’t matter, do they?

Son: What’s not a matter?

Dad: If a chocolate is single estate or some mongrel mickey mouse mix jokily riding the waves of confectionary mediocrity.

It doesn’t matter at all.

Son: It’s Daddy’s birthday! Hurray!

Dad: Which is why I’m finding it quite hard to let this one go, my little monkey.

You’re really hoping for your family to go that extra mile on your big day.

Do you see what I’m saying?

Son: Daddy likes treats?

Dad: Yes. Daddy likes quality. It’s how he knows he’s loved.

Son: Daddy come and play?

Dad: Funny, but Daddy’s not in the mood anymore.

Might wait around in case your mother has wrapped me up a Lion bar.

Or maybe she’s pushed the boat out and bought me a Caramac.

Son: Why? Is it raining, Daddy?

Dad: Not in the garden, son. Not in the garden.

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Gordon and Marcus: they love each other really

Gordon: I knew you’d be down here at 3 in the morning, shagging a rum baba.

Marcus: You read Waitrose magazine then?

Gordon: Ballsy choice for a mutiny that, you ungrateful, sniveling shit whippet.

I taught you every fucking swear word you know.

Marcus: Well, I think you’re a big, nasty bully and now everyone in Berkshire knows it.

And when nice Mr. Michelen sees how well I press my whites I’m going to get another shiny gold star, so there.

Gordon: You’re a piece of out-of-date, tinned, processed, smoked cheese embedded with a child’s fingernail, left on a motorway Little Chef toilet seat.

Marcus: You’re that wobbly jelly bit of the chicken carcass, next to the knuckly, bloody, bony bit.

Gordon: You’re the deep-fried oozing mayonnaise puss on a KFC Tower Burger, that’s really a rat’s brain tumour.

Marcus: You’re the sweaty scotch egg left in the polythene bag next to the radiator, that the family remember when they get to Magaluf.

Only you’re the egg when they come home 2 weeks later.

Gordon: You’re the warm breakfast muffin in an airline meal.

Marcus: You’re the festering liquid mass fermenting in the stomach of the passenger who just ate it.

Gordon: You’re a Pizza Hut salad.

Marcus: Your toad-in-the-hole isn’t as good as Marco Pierre White’s.

……………… Gordon?

Gordon: You’re a mean little fucker, you know that?

Marcus: Yes chef, sorry chef.

Gordon: Will you co-host Britain Sucks Cooking Cock with me?

Marcus: Yes chef. Of course, chef.


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Butter? Melted into warm balsamic vinegar?

Please don’t play with me, God. Don’t take me to the gates of paradise, only to laugh in my greedy, salivating chops.

This is a partnership I dared not imagine but it consummated in my large intestine last night and I’m glad for the experience.

I had the same frisson of joyous presentiment the studio bosses must have felt when the news of Brangelina broke: two things of beauty, joined in one glorious unity.

Making one big mass of outrageous tremendousness.

The great thing about American recipes is they use cups to measure with, so you don’t have to pretend the grams and litres and ounces mean anything more to you than when you weren’t concentrating in maths at school. You just take out your nesting cups and un-nest them.

The bad thing about American recipes is that when you get back to living in U.K. you don’t know how to translate things back and forth and all your cakes die miserable, inconspicuous deaths from uncertain causes.

Don’t commit balsamicide with this recipe.

Go and buy the magic Uncle Sam measurers and knock it in the back of the net:

  • Chicken wings, pork ribs, any goddam animal that will surrender a part of itself*
  • Covered in the gloopy mass that results from the 12 minute simmering of 3/4 cup of balsamic vinegar, 1/4 soy sauce, 2 teaspoons of sugar, removed from the heat and stirred through with 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter. What am I saying, salted, unsalted, any butter that is butter and not ican’tbelieveitsnotbuttertypestuff.

*If you are a vegetarian spoon it over celeriac or lick it off John Humphrys.

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Hotel Breakfast

This is overwhelming. Feel completely overwhelmed.

There are choices on menus. But menus are conceptual.

As much about hope as hunger.

Here you can have it all. It’s excessive.

Got to be at least 10 tables joined together there, just to lay it out.

Would a member of staff intervene if someone went crazy?

‘I’m sorry, sir. I have to stop you there.’
‘But it’s self-service. That means there’s no limits.’
‘I’m sorry sir. It’s come from the top. Twenty five croissants…’
‘Yes, go on, say it.’
‘Well, there are other guests.’
‘There are other hotels too, Sonny-Jim. Move aside.’

How do they get those jam stains out of the white linen every day?

What a job. Glad that’s not my job.

Buffets come close. But the repertoire of a hotel breakfast- nothing compares.

Something for a Swiss mountaineer and a lorry driver.

Hot, cold, dried, fresh, sweet, savoury.

Cereals, fruit compotes, smoked fish, cinnamon dainties.

Next to baked blood.

All at the same meal. Sometimes on the same plate. All before 9 am.

It’s vast.

Have to make the most of it. Company’s paying.

Got to think of my ulcer.

Need some criteria. English? Continental? What looks best? What’s seasonal?

This is terrifically difficult.

The eggs alone, dear God. Lots of lifestyle tied up with eggs.

Don’t think it’s going to be a poached egg kind of day. Mostly going to be with Susan from accounts.

Is that an omelette chef? A whole chef with a hat, dedicated to flipping omelettes?

Must be exceptional, those omelettes. I’d be stupid not to have one of those.

But cake. Cake for breakfast. Can’t get away with that at home.

Maybe I should start with something to drink. Coffee smells lovely.

Hot milk. No, cream.

Hello! A wooden box filled with exciting-flavoured tea!

Can’t think when I’d next get to try Eucalyptus.

Maybe juice. Freshly squeezed- you can’t beat that.

Orange is classic but grapefruit’s left-field. Maybe mix them together and have half and half.

Wait, where did that porridge come from? That wasn’t here before. That’s not fair.

Haven’t factored that in at all. Won’t be room for that.

Feel nauseous. Need to lie-down.

That’s what I’ll have.

A decaf Nescafe sachet.


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Eating Tiramisu

With butterfly anticipation I venture down a glowing passageway where sparks of light bounce off the walls.

As I get closer I see that they are being thrown off an oval convex stainless steel door at the end; it releases in a controlled motion with just the gentlest push.

As soon as I am through, it is Narnia In The Sun; a wonderland of warmth and happiness and Judy Garland.

Quilted alpaca flooring, fresh moon-songs, turquoise cartoon birds and Destiny’s Child singing ‘I woke up this morning, the sunshine was smiling, I put on my happy face’ just below the volume of being incredibly, mind-bendingly annoying.

Two large teddy bears with good faces appear before me.

They help me into generously-cut silk and cashmere clothes, which I am allowed to keep.

I say no to the soft bonnet.

They lead me over to a large duvet and wrap me up, round and round- a delirious piggy in a premium blanket.

Then I am carried aloft to the heights of a cloud mountain where they set me free, to roll and roll and roll luxuriously in a rhapsody of unctuous bliss- the wicked scent of sweet liquor lingering on the ribboned breeze, chocolate fairy dust settling on my hair and skin- before I bump gently into the cradling comfort of a sponge cushion- part depth, part blinding light- and silently surrender my consciousness.

I bloody love this dessert.


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