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The Annual Sprout

This week I went from one end of the Malvern pub-grub scale to the other. The pubs for my recent meals with my friends were chosen to have good food, and an atmosphere conducive to a good chat over a few drinks. In contrast, on Wednesday it was the work Christmas Lunch, for the whole extended team, held at a town-centre pub that was clearly chosen for its highly affordable food, cheap wine/beer and the ability to seat 70+ of us in one sitting in its function room. The occasion was very festive and jolly, and the graduates and students did a good job of organising entertainment. My table even won the quiz (though we were perhaps over-competitive, and there was some mobile-phone based cheating going on. Google is your friend on such occasions!) But it is safe to say that the food is unlikely to be the highlight of my Christmas. The service was atrociously slow – over three hours to serve three courses – and the food lived up to its “highly affordable” billing (to quote my boss).

The broccoli and Stilton soup was fairly pleasant, but although there was some mild cheddar grated into it, I could detect no hint of Stilton. The accompanying bread was white sliced. My colleague to my right had pâté with toast as her starter, but left half of it after finding a hair in the pâté. They certainly didn’t stint on the portion size for the turkey dinner – it came piled high on a large plate, and many of my colleagues seemed to enjoy it as they cleared their plates. I was not so keen. There was turkey breast roll (not fresh turkey), a sausage, yorkshire pudding from a packet, roast potatoes ditto, lots of peas, slightly over-cooked carrots and a jug of mass-produced gravy also from a packet. The fish option was exactly the same meal, but without the gravy and with the turkey replaced by a slice of salmon – a less than classic combination! The worst abomination was the Brussels sprouts. I don’t particularly like them anyway, though I force myself to eat one per year as a seasonal gesture. These were so overcooked and mushy that I think they must have been put on to boil in November, to be sure they were ready in time. I just about managed to force one down, but there was no way I could face a second.

After the main course, one of the team came round with a charity bucket, collecting donations in the form of a “greens tax” from anyone who still had greens left on their plate. I successfully argued against the sprouts counting towards that, on the grounds that they weren’t green at all, but rather an unpleasant khaki colour. I did have to pay up though for the virulent green peas that I’d been unable to finish.

At that point, the fire alarm went off, with flashing lights and a very loud klaxon that even drowned out the mangled Christmas songs on the tannoy. It was a false alarm, but I was coming down with a migraine, and that was the final straw. I managed to last until I’d had my dessert (a perfectly pleasant if bland individual Christmas pudding with what was allegedly brandy sauce without any apparent trace of brandy in it) then made my excuses and walked back into work in a rather futile attempt to clear my head. By the time I’d finished the work that absolutely had to be done that afternoon and made it home, I had a raging headache and had to go straight to bed.

It’s good of work to arrange a Christmas meal for us all, and most people seemed to have a good time. It didn’t help that I was on the verge of a migraine, but even if I’d been feeling 100% I wouldn’t have enjoyed the food. I think that if the meal is held at the same pub next year, I’ll find an urgent deadline that I have to work towards to give me an excuse to miss it!

{ 3 } Comments

  1. Catriona | 18 December 2013 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    I hope you have a good time over Christmas, whatever you decide to do. Catriona

  2. Gillian | 19 December 2013 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Catriona. I hope you and your family have an enjoyable Christmas too.

  3. pauld | 20 December 2013 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Ah, Sprouts !.

    The most hideous vegetable ever to have evolved on planet earth, or maybe even the universe.