Crimes of the food kind

Last updated 10:25 10/10/2011

There are a lot of little things about food and its presentation and packaging that I find irritating. I am not the most "chilled out" person ever to walk the earth: I am frequently irritable, and some would have you believe that I am, in fact, nothing but a big old curmudgeon.This is all fine with me. I can handle that. But there are just SO many annoying little things about food that are avoidable, with just the tiniest tweak. And then, I'm pretty sure, I would be less annoyed. 

Love goes, where the rosemary sprig goesOkay, let's start with the obvious. I cannot stand anything being plated up that I cannot eat. Why, for instance, do people present plates of food with a big old stalk of rosemary on them? Am I supposed to eat it? Do you want me to choke (maybe!)? The exception to this, obviously, is bones, which are at least part of the food product. If you have to garnish (and, unless it actually adds to the flavour of the food, I would rather you didn't), couldn't you use parsley, or mint rather than a rosemary branch? Still green - and actually edible. 

I hate fake versions of something else. This includes margarine, mock-meat, caffeine-free diet cola, decaf coffee, carob - you get the idea. Margarine - it's no better for you than butter, and it tastes like axle grease. Just eat butter, and have a bit less. 

Decaffeinated soft drinks - unless you're going to drink the real thing, or Coke Zero, which, I will grudgingly admit, is pretty good, you might as well have a glass of water. Or fizzy water: one of my favourite things in our kitchen is the Sodastream machine - a great way to not only drink more water, but to (literally) zhuzh it up a bit.

Decaf coffee - I would rather have herbal tea. Mock meat - well, we've already discussed that here. Carob - it's just as "bad" for you as chocolate, and it tastes like dried dung (I am guessing here, before anyone gets wisecrackin'). Unless there is a medical reason for you opting for a "substitute" foodstuff - just don't do it.

Some of my other irritations are far more specific. I am reasonably certain I have never been able to open a bottle of (delicious) Bundaberg ginger beer without cutting myself. So profound was my irritation at this, I did something my slacktivism doesn't usually allow - I wrote an email complaint letter, thus:

Hello, Bundaberg people,

Just thought I would drop you a line to give you a little feedback on your thoroughly excellent ginger beer...

Whilst I love the drink (not too sweet, great flavour, great mixer), I find it impossible to open the ring pull on the 375ml bottle without inflicting annoying, small paper-cut like injuries on my fingers!!!

I wonder if you have considered a less potentially injurious cap, maybe a screw top? 

I don't know if you have had other feedback on this, but just thought I'd give you mine.

Your thoughts on this would be most illuminating!

Best regards,

Jeremy Taylor

And -I got a reply; 

Good afternoon Jeremy, 

Thank you for contacting Bundaberg Brewed Drinks regarding the problem you experienced with our product.  Bundaberg Brewed Drinks takes pride in producing quality soft drinks for the pleasure and enjoyment of all consumers and is concerned to hear of your difficulties with our new Ring Crown cap. 

I personally find it easiest to hold the bottle with the ring pull facing your body, and pull out. This releases the gas.  Turn the bottle 180o and pull back on the ring pull. You will then find the cap is easily removed rather than trying to pull only upwards on the cap. If this is still a problem, can I suggest you use a pencil through the ring to assist in levering the cap off.

We also produce a 750ml Ginger Beer bottle, which you may consider in place of your current purchases as it has a screw cap and therefore can be resealed. We hope you will continue to enjoy our ginger beer in one form or another.

Bundaberg Brewed Drinks welcomes all feedback from our consumers as it allows us to maintain the premium quality expected from Bundaberg products. If you do experience further difficulties, please do not hesitate to contact us on our toll free number 1800 629 923. 

Please be assured of our best endeavours at all times.

Yours faithfully


 "Use a pencil"! They told me to use a bloody pencil to open a bottle of ginger beer! Or to buy a (bigger) screw cap bottle! Bollocks! Don't they realise I didn't want practical solutions to my neurotic questions - I wanted free stuff! At LEAST a year's free supply of ginger beer to make up for all the injuries they have subjected me to (this, then, also became a source of irritation).

A friend of mine takes particular umbrage at the misspelling/ misuse of words on menus - for example, "panini" being the plural of the singular "panino", thus saying "paninis" is akin to saying "sheeps" (or "vinyls" for several LP records - another pet hate). Other phrases are perhaps open to a little debate - is the plural of coffee really "coffees"? Even if that is correct, there is just something quite annoying about that word. I can't even explain just what. But I'll tell you one thing - if a waiter sidles up to my table in a café and asks "can I get you any coffees, at all, today", with that combination of the unnecessary pluralisation and the inherent redundancy in the phrase - I will bristle; but my buddy PJ may just explode.

On a related tip - don't you just hate it when wait staff pull up a chair at your table and sit down to take your order? Granted, it is a particular style of service, and it largely pertains to a type of eatery I am unlikely to frequent, but, all the same, it is awful, and should be stamped out. Immediately. No offence, Mr Waiter - but I am not eating here to share my table with you - unless you'd like to eat some of my chips, and then split the bill? 

I also hate the "compulsory tip" percentage added by some restaurants - you're going to charge me an extra 10 or 15 per cent, regardless of whether or not the food and/ or service deserves it? I'm going elsewhere. Build it into your prices, by all means, but don't just lump it on top of my bill. Oh, and I feel the same about the public holiday service charge - decide whether it is worthwhile your opening, and don't charge it, or just take the day off - shops don't get to charge it, and they incur the same extra costs - why should cafes and restaurants?

And here's a final one - if you're going to put something on a menu, don't you think it is worth finding out how to spell "pancetta", or "tagliatelle", or "baklava" - all words I've seen spelled wrong on menus lately? It would take just five minutes of Googling to make sure that they were correct, and save me all manner of consternation.

So what are your food irritations; both little quibbles and total dealbreakers? And have any of you had more success than me on the "complaint letter" tip?

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Kiwibird   #1   10:34 am Oct 10 2011

Don't you just hate clever-dick wait staff who take your order and don't write anything down? Doesn't fill me with confidence.

Mbossa   #2   10:35 am Oct 10 2011

I'll never buy a coffee from a place that has "expresso" on the menu.

Penny   #3   10:39 am Oct 10 2011

hahaahahhahahahha you are halarious i agree with your points

Kate   #4   10:39 am Oct 10 2011

I hate it when people resort to the microwave for everything. Boiling potatoes, microwaved cheese sauce (horrid); my flatmate has done it all. Whats wrong with an extra 5-10 minutes using the stove and making food that doesn't taste like rubber? Also oversalted food and definitely fake meat.

David   #5   10:43 am Oct 10 2011

Dear Jez,

I just laughed out loud. Thank you.


Toofy   #6   10:45 am Oct 10 2011


Mescaline and mesclun - one is waaaaaaaay more fun than the other and I've seen the wrong one used so many times!

I actually wrote a similar email to my favourite peanut butter company recently - they have a great NZ product, best peanut butter I've ever had, but by golly their containers are hard to get into!! Hard to open, hard to seal! just sent in my feedback, hope they appreciate it!

CP   #7   10:46 am Oct 10 2011

I get really annoyed by the thick bits of foil suck on top of Powerade bottles and similar drinks. They don't even have a tab to pull. How is anyone with no fingernails supposed to get into them? My daughter wrote to Coca Cola about this, suggesting they could add a little tab, just like the one you find on milk bottles. Other than a 'thank you for your letter' we got nothing either. And 2 years later we still battle the Powerade bottle.

And yes, I despise spelling mistakes on public display. Anywhere. Vegetable shops seem to have them in abundance at all times. Couliflour anyone? Or Strawberrie? How hard is it to check for the correct spelling before drawing up your specials board?

Restaurants I won't go to are the type where authentic cuisine is prepared by unauthentic chefs. If an Englishman is trying to do authentic German food, for example, I will stay well clear. You wouldn't buy Chinese from an Indian, would you? Or the 'European bread' they sell at the supermarkets from their own bakery. Tastes OK, but can't see anything remotely resembling European bread there.

Oh, and did I mention Smorgasbords? Watching old men pile food on their plates to a height of half a meter, so that they can throw half of it out because they didn't finish their plate.

Leon   #8   10:46 am Oct 10 2011

I'm another who isn't impressed with the holiday surcharge idea. Back in the dark ages, you used to get penal rates (time and a half, or double time) if you worked on a Saturday or Sunday.

This did not result in the prices going up on a weekend.

If I see "holiday surcharge" I walk on past and spend my money some place else. Adding an extra fee is entirely up to the owner, and it's their business decision to make. As a consumer, it's entirely my decision to shop elsewhere that day. As much as I am unique flake of snow (ha ha), there seems little doubt that a lot of other people also do the "walk right on past" decision too.

TellMeAboutIt   #9   10:46 am Oct 10 2011

Well I'm no fan of fake food either, although if people want to poison themselves with margarine, or soy milk (for those with allergies, rice milk appears to be a safe alternative) with no good reason, then so be it. One thing that does irritate me is those cans with ring pulls at the top - Watties 'Very Special' soup and small tins of canned fish being the top offenders. If you could actually open them they'd be the best thing in the world, but as it is, you're firstly risking injury by trying to pull the top off with the ring and then when that doesn't work (or after you've bypassed that step) there's the inevitable battle with the can-opener - which takes several minutes and long frustrating attempts to open properly - unlike the regular, run-of-the-mill cans

PJ   #10   10:47 am Oct 10 2011

I think you'll find 'panini' is the plural of the singular 'paninus'.

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