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Food Fit For the End Of The World

We all like chicken on a brick, but would you eat chicken in a can? What if it were the only food available after the End Of The World, which is going to arrive today according to a Mayan prophecy? And what would be your last meal if you had to choose one before the Apocalypse? Or would you skip the food and go for a good shag instead? Lazy thoughts on comfort food, survival kits, canned cheeseburgers and The End Of The World. 

food apocalypse catastrophe preparedness


So. The 21.12.12 is upon us and looks like the Mayan prophecy on the end of the world (or Apocalypse, which means exactly the same thing but allows me to showcase my knowledge of Ancient Greek) was wrong big time. Not that I would take recommendations by someone who was too busy to do human sacrifice and silly dances to notice that Doomsday was REALLY coming in the form of the Spanish conquistadores- well at least that’s what that late-night History Channel document said.

This whole Mayan calendar “end of the world” thing is clearly not worth 5 second of the time of every averagely- cultured, sentient human being on the planet- BUT, as many other urban legends, conspiracy theories and lunatic prophecies, has gained worldwide attention.  Years ago, I wrote my thesis on collective psychology and how false news are developed and spread around certain recurring themes (dead babies, divine intervention, cannibalism- do you see a trend?); it quoted all sorts of academic scientific sources, going as far as suggesting that neuroscience will, one day, discover why the brain loves to reinforce a given pattern of thought rather that challenging it. Fast forward 10 years and I have my answer without having to consult any book: SOME PEOPLE ARE HOPELESSLY GULLIBLE [I can hear my parents crying seeing where my expensive education has disappeared ]. So I stopped asking myself why and decided I would have a bit of fun looking at what would be people priorities before the end of the world- and specifically, food (and perhaps also sex- you guessed it).

weather forecast for the end

Not the most far-fetched forecast broadcasted by Fox News

Apparently, the Guardian “Word of Mouth” Blog had the same idea yesterday so I am striving not to write anything which will land me in a legal controversy (although lately it loos like its’ mostly newspapers copying blogs, not the other way round). The feature- which is quite funny- looks at first at the “survivalist” movement and what the options are for those who really believe that the end is nigh- the end of supermarkets and agriculture probably, since these “survival kits” seem to consist mostly of canned food which can be “reactivated with water”. Why water should be spared by the end of the world- or the pantry of your nuclear bunker for that matter- is beyond me, but here they are, the hardcore survivalists. And if you’re thinking of some weirdo surrepticiously stocking Heinz canned ravioli and pot noodles- you’re wrong. The modern survivalist has been catered for in perfect 2012 style, that is with dedicated e-commerce websites applying all the best of marketing techniques.

Look at this unmissable offer from the guys at US website “Survival Warehouse” (aptly headlined Be safe/Be Smart/Be Prepared) for just $3,500 (special price! limited offer!)

We call this Freeze Dried Foods kit with Free Survival Supplies included the “Imperial Food Supply”. Freeze Dried Foods by Mountain House | Survival SuppliesIts name speaks for itself. With this Imperial Supply of freeze dried foods you will eat like a KING! The “Imperial Food Supply” provides you with THREE BALANCED MEALS per day for one person, for 1-Year. Plus you get desserts, vegetables, cottage cheese, crackers, and much, much, more. With this Imperial Food Supply of freeze dried foods, your emergency preparedness is complete and you not only survive, you survive in Style.

The detailed list that follows, including items such as Hearty Beef Stew, Chicken Ala King, Lasagna, but also Sliced Strawberries and Scrambled Eggs with Bacon, is probably most varied than the diet of the average Brit.  Oh, and there’s also Granola with Blueberries and Milk for the healthy survivalist (you don’t want to go to such lenghths and survive the End of the World, only to find yourself killed by high cholesterol, right)? Vegetarian options are available.

chicken in a can foodmourn

Time to go vegetarian

The discovery of Survival Warehouse opened my eyes to the incredible world of canned food and its extreme frontiers. I discovered that there is such thing as a canned sandwich (a Canwich- ha!) and cheeseburger, sushi frozen in dry ice and  – don’t throw up please  – a ‘whole chicken in a can‘ which looks like something out of a low budget horror movie. After this, I guess you will agree with me that the end of the word is near indeed. 

But the question that really intrigues me is- if indeed the end of the world was tomorrow, what would be on your plate today? The Guardian diligently covered the issue by calling in a Middle Eastern chef and food writer (probably as  those regions are effectively in a state of daily apocalypse) and the more familiar figure of Times’ food critic Giles Coren. What would he eat?

 “Endangered stuff,” he says, “caviar, bluefin tuna, ortolans, cod, shark fin … all the stuff I don’t eat because it is unsustainable. “If I survived the apocalypse I’d carry on eating them because the main reason certain foods are extinct or nearing extinction is [because] there are too many people on the planet, but if there was only me then I [could] hardly make a dent.” It’s not the most politically correct answer, but the logic of making the most of what you have is certainly sound.

I wholeheartedly agree- “making the most of what you have” is exactly what I do even though is more pot noodles and reduced to clear pork chops than caviar and shark fin – for me, and dare I say most of us it may not be a case of End of The World but just End of The Month. 

So I asked on Twitter and Facebook a quick round of questions – “If you could only eat one thing before the end of the world, what would it be?”

I might not have had the pleasure of hearing from Coren, but I got lucky enough to get a kind reply from the Guardian’ food critic (and my favourite food writer in the whole soon-to-be-ended world) Marina O’Loughlin. She tweeted:

Buttered sourdough toast spread with Istrian white truffles. Or just toast.

Ah, you can’t keep up with Marina not even when we’re talking humble snacks- I confess I had to google Istrian truffles. Sound like lovely stuff. Toast is high on my priority list as well- just with my family’s olive oil rather than butter, if I had to choose, and sea salt.

Suprisingly, most replies I got challenged country stereotypes- sure, some Italians voted pizza and seafood pasta, Indians dosa and chillies, Hong-Kongers mentioned suckling pig and Malaysians beef rendang, noodles and lobster- but it was actually a happy mess of crossed references, with Singaporeans liking French cheese and the British swearing by jamon Iberico. Few desserts- with chocolate and icecream winning.

The shortest but most evocative image was tweeted to me by Katie Parla of Parlafood:

A really good persimmon!

It made me think of how much goodness there is in nature- without the need to shop and cook and arrange. Or “reactivate with water”- like the Imperial Survival Warehouse rations.

The most mentioned words (I counted, I swear)? “Mum’s food” and “pork”. Looks like pork, not steak, is the meat of choice for a ‘last meal’- it seems very fitting to me, as someone who grew up thinking that pigs are the most intelligent animal on Earth and basically better than humans (blame my Grandad for this belief).

I was a bit surpprised nobody said they’d much rather have sex than eat, if they were short of time before the Apocalypse. End of the world quickie, anyone? Maybe nobody thinks about it, as end of the world fornication wouldn’t be pleasurable; anxiety doesn’t help performance – imagine the pressure of it being “your last time”. Your first time is nothing in comparison! Even though I find the perspective of a one-night stand without a “morning after” awkwardness quite attractive, doesn’t seem like anyone planned to exit this world in an orgy- rather an orgy of food, like the Last Supperclub in London (from the Guardian: a party running in London until the 21st aiming to see the end of days out in a haze of hedonism). Curious that hedonism is synonymous with food alone. But then we all know- even the best lover can disappoint, but food never does- unless you pick the wrong restaurant, or go for canned cheeseburgers. If my world had to be frozen food and powder bacon and eggs, I’d rather see it end today.

See you tomorrow at the End Of The World! What’s the last thing you will eat? ;)

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