Giulia, who is an Italian person, or just as plausibly an American college student who is doing a ‘catfish’ on me, sent me these enormous hi-def pictures of the desperate meals she is forced to eat in front of her absolutely filthy keyboard.

Giulia felt that I had been misrepresenting Italians as a good cooks.

She felt this was pernicious stereotyping and wanted it to be known that, in fact, Italians eat with just as much resignation and medicated numbness as everyone else.

The reality of being an Italian is not all pizza and pasta and slipping off into the soothing body high of a carbohydrate overdose on your two hour lunch break.

No, it’s eating flavourless biscuits and tinned tuna with carrot and watching the crumbs gather in your dirty keyboard.

It’s eating sad leftover store bought minestrone day in and day out,  because deep down you don’t feel like you deserve that delicious calzone.

It’s wiping away your tears with a Minnie Mouse napkin, and letting loose a silent scream at your monitor as you submit these digital artifacts of your desperate life to a tumblr of diminishing returns run by a sad man no less able to deal with life than you are.

Combining heavily processed foods is a deadly game.
There’s always the nagging worry that you’re eating a lifetime’s allowance of carcinogens in a single sitting or that this pork based product may never be digested, but instead begin a process of absorbing your small intestine which only ends when your insides are 95% reconstituted pig meat.
Worse, for the lonely diner already concerned about their  pervading stink of desperation ingesting a cocktail of food additives and ground up swine anus can also seriously affect the way you smell.
This particular dish is comprised of one of the leading culprits in making one smell like a burning mountain of expired bacon that’s been filtered through the mouth of a festival toilet.
Tinned hotdogs topped with grated Babybel with a dipping pool of ketchup, or catsup if you like.
You eat tinned hotdogs more than once a fortnight, you begin to smell like you bath in their translucent brown juice and brush your teeth with a silicon injected sausage.
Throw Babybel into the mix and it’s a question of when, not if, you’re going to have a serious situation occurring in your underwear.
Trust me.
I’ve woken  myself up from the depth of heavily medicated slumber with my own frankfurter foetidness. 
It’s a pervading musk which follows you from your flat into your place of work, forcing colleagues to pointedly force open windows you thought were painted shut and pump the air full of odour masking aerosols.

Combining heavily processed foods is a deadly game.

There’s always the nagging worry that you’re eating a lifetime’s allowance of carcinogens in a single sitting or that this pork based product may never be digested, but instead begin a process of absorbing your small intestine which only ends when your insides are 95% reconstituted pig meat.

Worse, for the lonely diner already concerned about their  pervading stink of desperation ingesting a cocktail of food additives and ground up swine anus can also seriously affect the way you smell.

This particular dish is comprised of one of the leading culprits in making one smell like a burning mountain of expired bacon that’s been filtered through the mouth of a festival toilet.

Tinned hotdogs topped with grated Babybel with a dipping pool of ketchup, or catsup if you like.

You eat tinned hotdogs more than once a fortnight, you begin to smell like you bath in their translucent brown juice and brush your teeth with a silicon injected sausage.

Throw Babybel into the mix and it’s a question of when, not if, you’re going to have a serious situation occurring in your underwear.

Trust me.

I’ve woken  myself up from the depth of heavily medicated slumber with my own frankfurter foetidness.

It’s a pervading musk which follows you from your flat into your place of work, forcing colleagues to pointedly force open windows you thought were painted shut and pump the air full of odour masking aerosols.

There’s no saying for certain just how mentally scarred the toddler was who received this cake tribute to Lord of the Flies on their third birthday. 
It is telling that once grown-up they’ve gravitated to a community of people with deep and abiding food traumas. 
Lou, the receiver of the severed swine head, tells me they sometimes hallucinate that they’re taking kitchen instruction from the long eaten cake. 
It tells them how to prep their vegetables, how long they should cook their bacon, and which people at work are betraying them and need to be punished.
As the porcine horror sat melting throughout the day, the family’s attention turned to party games and photos of grandmother drunk and asleep on the couch. 
Nobody noticed Lou staring intently at the piggy face, their little hand tracing pentagrams and unknown sigils into the puddle of pink icing which had become a reflecting pool for fallen swine god.
Neither did they see the brief moment where Lou appeared to levitate, just ever so slightly, after touching the boar king’s crown of candles.

There’s no saying for certain just how mentally scarred the toddler was who received this cake tribute to Lord of the Flies on their third birthday. 

It is telling that once grown-up they’ve gravitated to a community of people with deep and abiding food traumas. 

Lou, the receiver of the severed swine head, tells me they sometimes hallucinate that they’re taking kitchen instruction from the long eaten cake. 

It tells them how to prep their vegetables, how long they should cook their bacon, and which people at work are betraying them and need to be punished.

As the porcine horror sat melting throughout the day, the family’s attention turned to party games and photos of grandmother drunk and asleep on the couch.

Nobody noticed Lou staring intently at the piggy face, their little hand tracing pentagrams and unknown sigils into the puddle of pink icing which had become a reflecting pool for fallen swine god.

Neither did they see the brief moment where Lou appeared to levitate, just ever so slightly, after touching the boar king’s crown of candles.

Two readers independently sent in their own mangled examples of food simulacra.

Up top is fish and chips, served to you in a horrifying future where BP have managed to complete their secret objective, destroying the world’s oceans and punching every dolphin in the face.

The tomatoes casually topping it all off sadly bring to mind the meals Dad served up, after Mum left him for the man from the Mazda dealership where they had bought the family car.

Underneath we have a Jalapeno topped pizza as eaten by the Joad family in The Grapes of Wrath.

I can remember my own joyous surprise over at a friend’s house when their hippie parents announced we were having pizza for tea, only to be bitterly disappointed when we were presented with a weird vegan masochist’s vision of the delicious Italian flat bread.

Have you been cruelly tricked by a plate of food purporting to be something it was not? Did you get served frankfurters in your Toad in the Hole? Have you eaten what passes for ‘Mexican’ food at Chiquitos?

If so DLMFO would love to hear your story. Please get in touch. Your anonymity will be ensured. 

Here’s a double bill as ill conceived as Beethoven followed by Cujo: beige debris with a side portion of pinkened wallpaper paste.

Marvel at the top photograph which depicts a lonely Yorkshire pudding enthusiast  performing a one person food show in front of a voyeuristic trio of terrifying gnome dolls. 

Take it from me, you have to be at a pretty low point in your life to want to parade your culinary inadequacies in front of an audience while they watch you from behind a distorted frame.

As a teenager I once witnessed a very similar sight on holiday in Amsterdam whilst stumbling back to my youth hostel. 

The seedy gnomes on that occasion were some portly, tonsured, businessmen and the dead eyed diner wasn’t eating the sunken remains of a roast dinner, but rather something far less appealing to my drug addled senses.

Consumers of popular culture who are roughly my age, and who share the same limited points of reference, will already know it’s a terrible idea to drink and bake.

From Arnold Schwarzenegger’s sloshed cake destroying wife in ‘Raw Deal’ to Viz’s consistently heartbreaking ‘Drunk Bakers’, film and literature have taught us that mixing booze and baking is about as sensible as using Viagra as the raising agent in a Victoria Sponge.

That’s why it’s so upsetting to see someone driven to necking bottles of hand sanitizer while preparing  a birthday cake they’ll inevitably eat alone.

It’s your birthday, you could at least treat yourself to a bottle of mouthwash or a nice tall glass of cough syrup.

Consumers of popular culture who are roughly my age, and who share the same limited points of reference, will already know it’s a terrible idea to drink and bake.

From Arnold Schwarzenegger’s sloshed cake destroying wife in ‘Raw Deal’ to Viz’s consistently heartbreaking ‘Drunk Bakers’, film and literature have taught us that mixing booze and baking is about as sensible as using Viagra as the raising agent in a Victoria Sponge.

That’s why it’s so upsetting to see someone driven to necking bottles of hand sanitizer while preparing a birthday cake they’ll inevitably eat alone.

It’s your birthday, you could at least treat yourself to a bottle of mouthwash or a nice tall glass of cough syrup.

Specialist in social media harassment, Helena, recounts a sweaty tale of garlic bread and her failure to move on with her life:
I ate this whilst stalking the instagram of my ex, something I now do on a regular basis. It is garlic bread with cheese on top. I used to be a healthy, vibrant, vegan. I used to use cutlery and crockery.
Now I don’t even serve my coagulated messes on plates, instead preferring to use the hangover-sweat covered pajamas which enrobe my pathetic, pale body.
Nothing numbs the pain of seeing a former lover having the time of their young life in a variety of deliberately retro looking poses, like carbohydrates smothered in cheddar seeping garlic juice into your unwashed patterned tights.
Now you’re all alone, carrying with you the reek of a heart that has been scorned, and the stench of a side dish from Domino’s.

Specialist in social media harassment, Helena, recounts a sweaty tale of garlic bread and her failure to move on with her life:

I ate this whilst stalking the instagram of my ex, something I now do on a regular basis. It is garlic bread with cheese on top. I used to be a healthy, vibrant, vegan. I used to use cutlery and crockery.

Now I don’t even serve my coagulated messes on plates, instead preferring to use the hangover-sweat covered pajamas which enrobe my pathetic, pale body.

Nothing numbs the pain of seeing a former lover having the time of their young life in a variety of deliberately retro looking poses, like carbohydrates smothered in cheddar seeping garlic juice into your unwashed patterned tights.

Now you’re all alone, carrying with you the reek of a heart that has been scorned, and the stench of a side dish from Domino’s.

jke-g, who you may remember from publicly shaming his druggie ‘friend’, the failed wrap star Luke, returns to share his annual ‘State of my brother’s butter report’.
It’s currently in ‘quite a state’ which is an improvement on last year’s ‘complete fucking state’. Last year, of course, Luke’s brother only ventured out of his house on sixteen different occasions. That leaves a man a lot of time alone with his butter.
I remember the first time I was told to correct my behaviour regarding knives and butter. I was about twelve and had stayed the night over at a friend’s house where we had been feverishly working on making our own Star Trek board game. He was a mad Star Trek fan, I was happy to have a friend.
It had been quite the day and night, cutting out cardboard, making up rules, pretending I had a clue about Star Trek.
That morning after we were sitting down to a slap up breakfast of toast.  I was done spreading peanut butter and reached my knife straight from the Sun Pat into the Raspberry Jam.
'What the fuck are you doing?'
It was my friend’s older brother, Jeff. 
Jeff had a floppy mohawk and wore an Exploited t-shirt all the time. He hung out at a park in the city centre where the homeless guys drank white cider and people frequently got fingered.
Jeff had nothing but contempt for the two nerd virgins siting at his breakfast table.
'What are you doing? You use a different knife for jam and peanut butter, you'll get peanut butter in the jam, that's fucking disgusting.'
 I was extremely embarrassed to be called out about my horrific faux pas by someone who had given themselves a homemade New Model Army tattoo.
What sort of uncool jam defiling idiot was I?
Actually, I was a jam despoiler who couldn’t help but feel that in my own way I was actually way more punk than that crusty poseur, because I actually didn’t give a toss if I had bits of old peanut butter in my jam or not.
To this day, I still make a point to only use one knife for peanut butter and jam when preparing toast,  and it’s all because Jeff was such an uptight wanker with his fascist two knife policy. 
I hate Jeff.

, who you may remember from publicly shaming his druggie ‘friend’, the failed wrap star Luke, returns to share his annual ‘State of my brother’s butter report’.

It’s currently in ‘quite a state’ which is an improvement on last year’s ‘complete fucking state’. Last year, of course, Luke’s brother only ventured out of his house on sixteen different occasions. That leaves a man a lot of time alone with his butter.

I remember the first time I was told to correct my behaviour regarding knives and butter. I was about twelve and had stayed the night over at a friend’s house where we had been feverishly working on making our own Star Trek board game. He was a mad Star Trek fan, I was happy to have a friend.

It had been quite the day and night, cutting out cardboard, making up rules, pretending I had a clue about Star Trek.

That morning after we were sitting down to a slap up breakfast of toast.  I was done spreading peanut butter and reached my knife straight from the Sun Pat into the Raspberry Jam.

'What the fuck are you doing?'

It was my friend’s older brother, Jeff. 

Jeff had a floppy mohawk and wore an Exploited t-shirt all the time. He hung out at a park in the city centre where the homeless guys drank white cider and people frequently got fingered.

Jeff had nothing but contempt for the two nerd virgins siting at his breakfast table.

'What are you doing? You use a different knife for jam and peanut butter, you'll get peanut butter in the jam, that's fucking disgusting.'

 I was extremely embarrassed to be called out about my horrific faux pas by someone who had given themselves a homemade New Model Army tattoo.

What sort of uncool jam defiling idiot was I?

Actually, I was a jam despoiler who couldn’t help but feel that in my own way I was actually way more punk than that crusty poseur, because I actually didn’t give a toss if I had bits of old peanut butter in my jam or not.

To this day, I still make a point to only use one knife for peanut butter and jam when preparing toast,  and it’s all because Jeff was such an uptight wanker with his fascist two knife policy. 

I hate Jeff.

Civic minded food shamer, sodajackslap, submits this haunting visual representation of a future bereft of gravy, where every evening’s dinner is a mixture of soylent green, tear salt mash, and parasitic sand-worms.
By the way, if you’re interested to know how the photographer created such a startling image it’s quite easy to recreate for yourself.
You simply need to take a normal picture on your smartphone and then apply the ‘trapped between two worlds’ filter on the Instagram app.

Civic minded food shamer, , submits this haunting visual representation of a future bereft of gravy, where every evening’s dinner is a mixture of soylent green, tear salt mash, and parasitic sand-worms.

By the way, if you’re interested to know how the photographer created such a startling image it’s quite easy to recreate for yourself.

You simply need to take a normal picture on your smartphone and then apply the ‘trapped between two worlds’ filter on the Instagram app.

This submission from isontheroad has quite clearly been staged, of this there can be little doubt.
However as a lifelong fan of the choreographed art of professional wrestling I am able to appreciate something being simultaneously both real and fake.
The meal may be a work, but the heartfelt misery that has gone into this image is damn real.
So real, in fact, that I’ve already appropriated this picture for use as my avatar across the wide range of social media platforms I’m currently being boring on.
It speaks to me.

This submission from  has quite clearly been staged, of this there can be little doubt.

However as a lifelong fan of the choreographed art of professional wrestling I am able to appreciate something being simultaneously both real and fake.

The meal may be a work, but the heartfelt misery that has gone into this image is damn real.

So real, in fact, that I’ve already appropriated this picture for use as my avatar across the wide range of social media platforms I’m currently being boring on.

It speaks to me.

You’re heading towards the final term of that first year away at university, and things aren’t going so well.
Social Anthropology isn’t quite the course you thought it would be, sleeping with your housemate was a massive mistake, and you’ve got no money for food after blowing your student loan on soft drugs and takeaways.
You had been meaning to learn to cook at some point before you went away, but you decided to go backpacking instead like the middle class cliche you are and wound up catching dysentery and a persistent case of crabs from a cheap hostel mattress.
It’s three in the afternoon and your stomach has woken you up demanding food. You finished your last jar of peanut butter two days previously and your hunger has forced you to adopt a radical philosophy which eschews all notions of private property.
In short, you’re about to steal your housemates food. 
You reason, correctly, that they already dislike you intensely and if pressed on the matter you have a plan to blame it on the Cypriot guy upstairs who nobody’s seen for the last six weeks.
This is all you can find.
A glass coffin filled with the remains of a miscarried broccoli bake.
It’s clearly the handiwork of that weird guy across the hall from you, the one who always smells of stale laundry, who keeps photographing his meals when he thinks no one is looking, who repeatedly cries out in anguish in the dead of the night.
You force it down. It’s disgusting. You take some of his squash to wash it down. It’s strangely medicinal tasting and doesn’t appear to be Five Fruit flavour as labelled.
You tiptoe from the scene of the crime; to sit in your room and roll a joint, to fall asleep in front of a pirated copy of Meet the Millers, and to dream terrible dreams of sinister broccoli stalks stalking you through the charred wasteland of your trite and selfish life.

You’re heading towards the final term of that first year away at university, and things aren’t going so well.

Social Anthropology isn’t quite the course you thought it would be, sleeping with your housemate was a massive mistake, and you’ve got no money for food after blowing your student loan on soft drugs and takeaways.

You had been meaning to learn to cook at some point before you went away, but you decided to go backpacking instead like the middle class cliche you are and wound up catching dysentery and a persistent case of crabs from a cheap hostel mattress.

It’s three in the afternoon and your stomach has woken you up demanding food. You finished your last jar of peanut butter two days previously and your hunger has forced you to adopt a radical philosophy which eschews all notions of private property.

In short, you’re about to steal your housemates food. 

You reason, correctly, that they already dislike you intensely and if pressed on the matter you have a plan to blame it on the Cypriot guy upstairs who nobody’s seen for the last six weeks.

This is all you can find.

A glass coffin filled with the remains of a miscarried broccoli bake.

It’s clearly the handiwork of that weird guy across the hall from you, the one who always smells of stale laundry, who keeps photographing his meals when he thinks no one is looking, who repeatedly cries out in anguish in the dead of the night.

You force it down. It’s disgusting. You take some of his squash to wash it down. It’s strangely medicinal tasting and doesn’t appear to be Five Fruit flavour as labelled.

You tiptoe from the scene of the crime; to sit in your room and roll a joint, to fall asleep in front of a pirated copy of Meet the Millers, and to dream terrible dreams of sinister broccoli stalks stalking you through the charred wasteland of your trite and selfish life.

Italy has given the world so much for such a small and relatively young country.

It’s given us the heartwarming physical comedy of Roberto Benigni, the stylish and sophisticated pop music of Sabrina ,and the names for all four of the Ninja Turtles.

The greatest accomplishment, however, is in the field of culinary excellence.

For the lonely singleton, a staggering 9 meals out of every 10 involve some form of pasta.

When you add pizza to the statistics an even more amazing 9.5 out of every 10 meals has its origins in Garibaldi’s leg shaped baby.

(Don’t go looking for those figures, by the way. They’re based on my own intuitive method of data gathering)

In today’s exciting double bill we’re celebrating Italy with pizza  and pasta.

Up top we have a delicious pizza that cost a princely twenty eight pence and which has been lavished with bacon and tabasco.

It would bring a solitary tear to the eye of any Italian grandmother.

Next up we have a brick of pasta.

Pasta bricks are commonly found in Venetian cuisine where for centuries they’ve been dropped from open windows into passing gondolas to feed the hungry gondoliers.

The pasta is tightly packed after cooking and smeared with a tomato sauce. Usually they’re eaten with sardines or Venetian water hamster

Italy, land of Berlusconi and teenagers perpetually in search of the Hard Rock Cafe, we salute you! 

Dimly Lit Dining: ‘Hot Chicks Spicy Roasted Chickpeas’

image

I add rambling and over-done captions to pictures that people take of their meals because I am desperate for human attention, even if it’s a cursory chuckle or a resigned ‘euch’.

As a result I have developed an unhealthy symbiotic relationship with social media in which I am a desperate louse crawling on the pubis of this very microblogging site, sucking up the life sustaining blood of sad food photos.

I also, on occasion, review food items which have appeared in my life without warning much like the mystery outbreak of cold sores which blighted the final weeks of so many of my schoolmates yet managed to pass me by completely being, of course, totally unrelated to the fact I wasn’t invited to any of that toothy bastard Darren’s infamous ‘conservatory of carnality’ parties.

But I digress. This isn’t about Darren and his overabundance of teeth, nor is it about the fact that my social life died at some point around the turn of the century. No, it’s about spicy chickpeas.

image

On The Pulse are an indie snack food producer that make edibles out of…pulses. You know, those horrible things that you need to soak for hours before cooking and that the human body has a great deal of digesting quietly and discretely.

But it’s also On The Pulse because they’re also exceedingly current and achingly hip and on message. Yes, there is duality of meaning being played with so it is indeed a most clever name.

Similar to Innocent, purveyors of smoothies and indigestible vegetable buckets, OTP like to use twee copy on their packaging because either they cynically think it makes them seem kooky like a Zooey Deschanel, or they’re genuine hardcore knitted cupcake enthusiasts who like to imagine they’re engaged in friendly dialogue with their food purchasables.

Any way you slice it it’s an annoyance but it could be easily forgiven if the product was a sexy flavour riot, not like the microwaveable tubs of silage currently being sold by Innocent to hapless goons who are panicked over the increase from 5 to 7 recommended portions of fruit and veg a day.

Unfortunately, OTP have managed to create not a flavour riot but, instead, an experience that’s closer to waterboarding for your tastebuds.

Because I’m not a proper food blogger I don’t get sent things for free to review. Nor do I blackmail restaurants into giving me free food, mainly because I find that dining out does little to help my social anxiety.

Anyhow, the point is that I pay for my snacks with my own hard earned money, and I hate to say it but ‘Hot Chicks Spicy Roasted Chickpeas’ are perhaps my most foolish waste of coin since buying a theremin that broke after two days from some spiv on eBay.

I don’t remember how much they cost, but it was a lot for what was ostensibly just a small packet of dried chickpeas.

image

In my defence I was fooled by the cool Mexican wrestling mask on the box. I’m a sucker for anything lucha libre related, and I love simple bold design. As such the only hero in this sad story is the chap who did the design, Benjamin Hayward.

The ingredients listed on the box indicate that they’ve used chipotle seasoning in the preparation of the snack. They also make the extravagant claim that the chickpeas are spicy. Neither seem particularly plausible to me. There is no heat from these little peas, nor is there any of the tell tale smokiness of chipotle.

Instead you get a momentary tang on the tongue, not dissimilar to licking a freshly shaved pencil. Then, nothing. Just the flavourless and unpleasant texture of a dry chickpea, soaking up all the moisture in your mouth and leaving an aftertaste of spoiled bird seed.

It’s as if the people at On The Pulse had simply picked out all the chickpeas from Aldi brand Bombay Mix, cleaned them of any spices which might elicit any a pleasurable reaction, and then repackaged them in a 45g bag with a smart looking luchador on the front.

I know I tend towards hyperbole, but believe me when I say that these chickpeas are a complete fucking travesty of taste.

I’m angered by almost everything about this snack. By the taste, by the twee copy, by the crap attempt to make them fashionably sexy (sexist?) by calling them ‘Hot Chicks’.

To put this snack into perspective I’d like you imagine that there’s a nuclear holocaust.

Mankind is forced to live in fallout shelters and exist off of tinned goods and specially harvested fungi.

Faced with the prospect of tucking into a pristine packet of ‘Hot Chicks Spicy Roasted Chickpeas’ it’s safe to say that I would rather eat the unwilling flesh of a living, breathing, loved one.  

Across the sea, in Germany, einsamer Mann Michael is subsisting off a diet of chicken sausage and his staggering collection of Polish mustards.
I had no earthly idea that a) there were so many types of mustard and b) that Poland was quietly working away at inventing them.
Having stared at this picture for a few minutes now, it does look like the saucy condiments have gathered around to witness a wurst threeway. 
The thought that a lonely single man is creating erotic dioramas with his dinner meats adds a certain seediness to the proceedings, which are bleak enough considering we have a man whose diet consists of Roleski Musztarda and little else.

Across the sea, in Germany, einsamer Mann Michael is subsisting off a diet of chicken sausage and his staggering collection of Polish mustards.

I had no earthly idea that a) there were so many types of mustard and b) that Poland was quietly working away at inventing them.

Having stared at this picture for a few minutes now, it does look like the saucy condiments have gathered around to witness a wurst threeway. 

The thought that a lonely single man is creating erotic dioramas with his dinner meats adds a certain seediness to the proceedings, which are bleak enough considering we have a man whose diet consists of Roleski Musztarda and little else.