For many years now, dietitians have claimed that there are four components of foods that they like to keep an eye on. All are essential, apparently, and I’m willing to accept received wisdom. It seems pretty straightforward. We need to eat protein, carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins/minerals. All seems in order, though I doubt that the fun things in life such as alcohol, despite it being a carbohydrate, count.

Terry Pratchett revised things a bit in the Discworld novels. The commander of the Watch, Sam Vimes, reckons that anything from Harga’s House of Ribs contains the four essential food groups, to wit sugar, starch, grease, and burnt crunchy bits. I quite like the thinking there. One of the reasons I like it is Terry Pratchett taking a swing at the healthy eating brigade. He died before the vogue for ‘clean eating’ became widespread, but he’d have had a bloody field day with the zealots.

A new slant on the topic was explained to me over the weekend. An acquaintance, who happens to be a chef, has a theory. The four basic food groups are actually beans, beer, tea, and fags. Those of you of a US persuasion need to be aware that fags is slang for cigarettes.

When I expressed some surprise at this coming from a chef, he was dismissive.

‘Naaah mate, we won two world wars on that.’

We then got to thinking if there were any additional foods that aren’t in the essential four, but could be eaten as occasional luxuries. Fried bread, done in dripping, came up as one. Then, returning to the wartime theme, corned beef and Spam have their place.

Those of you with long memories will recognise certain elements from my How to follow the Alphabet Diet… series of drivellings, though I did eschew the inclusion of cigarettes.

Additionally, last week I wrote about foods for people with more money than sense. Some lunatic has come up with a recipe for sausages that cost 37 quid a pop, or £700/kg. The recipe includes pork from Mangalitsa pigs, which I assume are pigs with a premium price tag to attract posers, truffles, mature Stilton, and port. I think Kevin Turner, who invented this delicacy, is being a bit disingenuous when he claims it might appeal to ‘connoisseurs with a more discerning taste.’ I think he means people with no taste whatsoever.

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