Hey, forget about boring old Wimbledon Fortnight, I'll tell you what's a really great British institution:
The pub lunch.
British pub lunches are, on the whole, pretty damn fantastic—particularly when accompanied by a pint or two of our world-beating, unchilled, unfizzy ale. Wonderful!
And they're such good value for money too: a few quid for some unpretentious, tasty, wholesome grub—can't say fairer than that, can you? I wouldn't want to eat pub lunches every day, but they're great as an occasional treat.
If anything, pub grub seems to have got even better over the last few years. I think we have the TV chefs to thank for that: we're more interested in quality food these days, and the publicans have risen to the challenge. Very well done indeed!
But I fear we're in danger of taking things a bit too far:
It started with the menus. In the good old days, you could order plain old chicken in a basket from the laminated menu at your table. Nowadays, there's the inevitable Specials Board, offering you pan fried chicken (well, what else are you going to fry it in?) and marmosets of lamb with saffron and broccoli spears, or some such bollocks. Do us a favour!
Then came the family-friendly pubs, where stressed-out parents can tuck into their vegetarian chillis and get pissed on their half pints of lager shandy, while their little brats use the pub as a bloody playground. Next (thanks, presumably, to the influx of kids) came the Health Nazis, with their "Oh, you can't smoke in here, there are people eating". Remember where you are folks: you're in a bloody pub.
But worst of all is the salad.
Don't get me wrong, I like salad. I like salad a lot. I like it in sandwiches, and I even like it as a main course (occasionally). But what I most definitely do not like is being given salad with my fish and chips.
SALAD DOES NOT GO WITH FISH AND CHIPS! IN FACT, SALAD DOES NOT GO WITH ANYTHING HOT (WITH THE POSSIBLE EXCEPTION OF LASAGNE)!
And they have to put the totally unnecessary salad in those stupid little bowls, don't they? WHERE DID THEY COME FROM? And have you noticed how some pubs have started putting the salad bowls on your plate, rather than to the side of your plate (where you can conveniently ignore them)? You know what that means, don't you, boys and girls? That's right:
The sneaky bastards!
Have you ever stopped to analyse a pub salad? I have. Do you know what the main costituent of a pub salad is?
WHAT SORT OF PERSON IN THEIR RIGHT MIND EATS CRESS IN ANYTHING BUT AN EGG SANDWICH?
And then there are the onions, and that weird purple stuff that you're not sure what to do with, and the lettuce with the ragged edges. WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY ALL ABOUT?
And while I'm at it, WHAT SORT OF TWISTED PERVERT PUTS GRATED CARROT IN A SALAD? AND HAVE YOU EVER TRIED EATING BLOODY WATERCRESS WITH A KNIFE AND FORK? IT CAN'T BE DONE!
Whatever you do, don't get me started on those godawful mixed vegetables with their NASTY, NASTY LITTLE CORNS ON THE COB!