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Just what the doctor ordered

By Spalding Today Columnist

GBM judges Oliver Payton, Andi Oliver and Matthew Fort (Photo: BBC)
GBM judges Oliver Payton, Andi Oliver and Matthew Fort (Photo: BBC)

"Do you think the seasoning is right?" "Are you happy with the consistency of the sauce?" "Has this dish got the wow factor to impress the unsung heroes of the NHS?"

It's at this point in The Great British Menu that Dougie blows a fuse.

"If they use that phrase 'unsung heroes' one more time..."

It's not that we don't love this BBC2 programme: we do. Every year we enjoy watching the battle to see who will be cooking a dish for the banquet. Whether it's to celebrate the WI or Wimbledon, you can rely on top chefs from around the UK to pull out all the stops. This year they hope to give thanks to the hard-working staff who work in the health service.

We tune in to relish the subtle jibes the chefs make about each other's dishes, tossing a grenade of uncertainty into the confidence of their competitors. "You've left yourself a lot to do: do you think you're putting too many elements on the plate?"

And we love all the wacky interpretations of the theme. My favourites so far came from fellow Geordie, adorable David Coulson, whose sweetbread recipe was a very literal celebration of organ donation, served on a plate decorated with an anatomical drawing of the inside of a human body. Nice. His homage to his chiropodist mum, complete with pigs' trotters and a corn garnish, had me in stitches - not literally.

The crazy presentation is also a huge part of the menu. We've had some corkers this year from a dish served with two blue flashing lights, red sauce squirted from an oversized syringe and fish placed on top of a light box to represent an X-ray. I'm just waiting for someone to rustle up a couple of meatballs in a bedpan.

My unsung hero - sorry, GP husband - explains the reason for his tetchiness. He reminds me of the years he worked at Pilgrim Hospital in the late 1980s. He doesn't recall being honoured with sous-vide duck breast and edible flowers. No. As a junior doctor on a weekend shift which began on Friday morning and ended on Monday evening, it was impossible to eat properly.

The canteen would close about 7pm, so if he was dealing with emergencies and consequently missed dinner, he had to buy a sandwich or bag of crisps from the vending machine. He longed for a gap on Sundays to feast on the high point of the weekend, a proper roast with gravy.

Today, a lunch for my medical man is Pacey's white rolls with sliced ham and a side dish of red grapes, served in a clear plastic lunch box. For dessert, bananas. Although they probably count as a starter, as he can't get through morning surgery without chomping on them.

I've noticed apples creeping into The Great British Menu in a number of dishes. Not such a good idea. If they keep the doctor away, mine will never get home in time for his dinner.

You can read Trish's blog at www.mumsgoneto.co.uk


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