Friday, 27 November 2009

Diet kebab anyone?

The Food Standards Agency is soon to release guidelines for our local caffs and chip shops to produce healthy versions of our favourite unhealthy takeaways. The prospect of the nannyish traffic light system, which is now fixed to every supermarket packet, adorning the wall alongside a donor kebab fills me with horror. Yes, the saturated fat levels of golden battered cod may be enough to induce a mild panic if not heart attack, but deep down we already know that we're not exactly nibbling on a carrot stick.

Going to the nearest greasy spoon to find calorie content and salt levels on the menu is surely a step too far? And will government imposed restrictions extend to the cream laden dishes in Michelin kitchens? More ridiculous still would be a late night chippie offering steamed sweet potato sticks or a quinoa salad to go with your burger.

Across the pond American’s are used to calories being displayed on all sorts of menus but surely this clouds choice to the point that diners no longer order what they actually want to eat but rather what they feel they should. Or, arguably worse, will leave a restaurant guilty, haunted by calorie counts and nutritional waffle.

I’m not trying to persuade anyone that doners, chips or pizza should be lauded as health foods but the FSA’s latest drive will hammer another nail into the coffin of the individual’s right to choose. I’d like to be able to indulge in a paper parcel of traditionally cooked fish and chips in all their salty, oily, vinegary deliciousness and savour every moment without the lingering guilt induced by an FSA poster proclaiming them as a ‘bad’ food. And I’m not sure I would want them to be cooked in healthier oil, fat-free batter or low sodium salt flakes.

Besides which, when it comes to kebabs, if you avoid the cylindrical twisting stack of dubious animal meat and go for grilled shish or tandoor kathi, your pitta bread will actually contain something less nutritionally offensive than the over laden high street sandwiches we stuff ourselves with daily.

Before the guidelines go crazy and we’re greeted with weight loss tips as we stagger over the doorsteps of our favourite eateries, it’s about time we celebrated the staggering array of street food that’s all over the capital.

Here are a couple I go back to again and again. They’re so good I’ve sort of stopped exploring so need to hear where yours are???

Good Morning Vietnam, Clapham Junction

Ranoush, High St Kensington

George’s Fish & Chip Bar, Portobello Road
Fish Club, St John's Hill


  1. Excellent post. Good points, well made. I want choice and I am fed up being told what is or isn't good for me to eat. Especially when, several years later, it all changes and the good stuff becomes bad and vice versa.

    As an aside, if british kebab shops sold the stuff you have in your illustration, instead of the "mechanically reclaimed" (read, power washed from the abbatoir floor) meat, they would be even tastier.

    Len x

  2. I agree it is one of those things it is best not to know - we all know it is bad for us - spare us the gory details!