Will Those Brits Ever Learn?

Better to admit straightaway that I am not much of a cook at all, and that there is no such thing as a Dutch cuisine worth mentioning. But then again I do not pretend to know much about food and then again, the Dutch are not struggling with a reputation for terrible food like the British are. Sure, we only cook ‘taters, veggies and meat, and our snacks are all deep-fried, artery-clogging bits of slaughterhouse leftovers, but it’s tasteless at worst – not inedible as per the UK.

It doesn’t help, then, that the cooking boom in the UK leads to articles in the Guardian – not your ordinary fish wrapper I might ad – about something they call parmesan from budget supermarkets like the German chain Lidl. Pray tell me that you are not talking about Parmigiano? Amidst the antipasti from Iraklidis (let me guess – prosciutto crudo with yoghurt?), what can one expect?

Anyway, writer Ian Jack gets his bits of parmesan – excuse me, Lidl calls this parmigiano reggiano on their site (the name Parmigiano-Reggiano is protected in the EU, reserved for cheese made in the proper way and in the proper region) – from various discounts and goes home to conduct some blind tasting. “What was parmesan anyway, but a condiment grated on spaghetti”, the writer asks himself, hopefully tongue-in-cheek: Parmigiano is considered one of the finest cheeses in the world.

And lo and behold, one of the cheeses is considered too chewy. Right. You can just picture the family sitting together, gobbling up chunks of parmesan. You can just picture them laying on the parmesan “condiment” in heaps or, God forbid, slices on top of their macaroni (we’ll stick to maccheroni here, thank you very much). To create that nice, rubbery, gluey, chewy effect of molten cheese the Italian kitchen is famous for all over the world – outside Italy.

Ian, if you’re reading this: please, write something about Princess Anne or the Earl of Wessex. Or try out different brands of milk in your tea. And if it has to have that Italian flavour, stick to articles about the England team manager. And I’ll promise I won’t write about cricket, or the Commonwealth, or swan upping, okay?



  1. I have to protest: one essential dish of the Dutch cuisine is really unsurpassed: our hemenex, there’s no better meal to conclude a good evening of serious pub crawling.

  2. Hemenex? Had to look that up. I always concluded the pub crawling with that other “Dutch” favourite: a pita shoarma with too much garlic sauce.

  3. What’s so bad about Lidl parmesan? Where I live in Sicily, the locals buy it quite happily because it’s great! I have some nice value priced Grana Padano in my fridge right now.
    I agree about the comic potential of the British posing as experts on cuisine – or even worse car manufacturing – but don’t pick on Lidl.

  4. I have no idea about the Lidl parmesan and that’s not what this is really about. It’s about calling a parmesan “chewy” as if you’re supposed to have big chunks of it. And calling it a “condiment grated on spaghetti”… ma dai, che vergogna…

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