Giles Coren on what he truly thinks about caviar bumps, foie gras and… Giles Coren

“I’ve either made the most of a fairly meagre talent, or I’ve wasted a huge one. And I can’t tell which”

(Words by)
Giles Coren

One of the most nauseating things about Twitter is the solemn legal clarifier people feel they have to chuck in their bios — “All opinions are my own” — as if they’re the Secretary General of the United Nations or the CEO of Goldman Sachs and not, you know, an out-of- work pantomime actor who once got through to James O’Brien. Giles Coren is no longer on Twitter, which is a good thing, because “my job is to express an opinion, but not necessarily my own opinion,” he says. After all, “what kind of lunatic would have three opinions that you can get 1000 words out of every single week?” Nevertheless, on a recent episode of the Gentleman’s Journal Podcast, we asked the restaurant critic to rustle up some views at short notice. 

Triple-cooked chips
Greasy and disgusting. It doesn’t really work. Heston came up with it, and it was a good idea — an old idea — that you parboil and fry and then refry. But now they need to get to fuck, and my children won’t eat them. Little skinny fries, salty with ketchup — that’s the thing. 

…Twitter
Quite fun that Elon Musk’s just bought it. I’d quite like it just to be Elon Musk, Donald Trump and me. Then I’d look like the sane, nice one. 

The word “Proustian”
Oh god. No! Nobody knows what it means. A.A. Gill, god rest his soul, had never read Proust and used the word anyway. Other restaurant critics use it, and they say: “I bit into it and had a proustian rush of something.” It’s overblown and these people have never, ever read it. What happened with Proust is that he dipped the madeleine into the scented tea, and it’s the smell that transports him, physically, into the reminiscence. It’s absolutely not about eating a pack of Monster Munch and it reminding you of when you were 12. 

…The Wolseley
Great tragedy. Can’t go now. 

…Keith McNally
I think he and James Corden deserve each other.

…Foie gras
I don’t think you should eat it anymore, and I don’t. 

…Caviar bumps’ [1]
I was sad to see that had become a meme. That’s how I’ve been eating it for years. I learned that from Matthew Freud, who used to have these Christmas parties with a kilo of beluga caviar sitting there. He’d have these amazing parties with Geldof and Cameron and Blair and Madonna, and I’d walk in and say: “alright Matt, where’s the caviar?” And I’d shoot up there and eat it until I vomited.

…Baked potatoes
Best thing in the world. My family recipe is to stick it in the oven, top whack. Wait until it’s done, then leave it another half an hour until the next door neighbour has called the fire brigade, then get it out, smash it with a hammer, and eat it with loads of Lurpak and salt. It tastes like bonfire night in the seventies.

…Sexy Fish
I’ve never fucked a fish. Almost everything else.

…Champagne
I was off it for a while, but I’m not sure if that was a bit of a position. I quite like vintage champagne, but not old-old champagne. And I would always rather have a cold beer. Always.

…Simpsons Tavern
It’s got to be saved, and I think it might be. I love the place. If it’s not there you’ve lost something. It’s like taking Lord’s away. What would be the point of playing cricket? If Simpsons goes, the other restaurants don’t mean anything. It’s been screwed by expat landlords, and I think possibly it was a box-ticking exercise made by a man in a hammock in Bermuda who didn’t realise
what he was doing. I hope we raise the £400k needed to save it. We’re a quarter of the way there. I’d like to hope that would be my legacy. I’ve closed enough restaurants — I’d like to keep that one open.

…Gordon Ramsay
Jolly old fellow.

…Lobster
Overrated. If there are thousands of them bobbing about in the sea and you can just reach in, split one open, chuck it on a grill and eat it with butter and garlic and a cold beer, then fine. But filling it with foie gras and eating it in Mayfair is a bit grisly.

…A.A Gill
I miss him desperately. Adrian was very good. And Adrian has an afterlife in death that he absolutely deserved, as a sort of Kurt Cobain figure, where everyone has forgotten the 95% of stuff he just churned out for the money, which is a hope for all of us. He wrote half a dozen brilliant pieces, 50 that were very, very good, had a wonderful turn of phrase, told hilarious jokes — and it’s a shame that he’s not here.

…Subeditors
The fact is that there aren’t any anymore. I got very angry about one who wasn’t very good. I have defended this so many times. I was only 30, and the bloke I was emailing was senior to me. He was piss-poor at his job and left the industry soon afterwards and good riddance. He fucked with copy he didn’t understand and that shouldn’t happen. Writers are supposed to be deferential to subs. If you work with a good one it’s a privilege and a great thing. But I’ve written four million words in my career and I’ve never filed a spelling mistake or a grammar error. So just take my piece and put it in the paper.

…Giles Coren
I find it very hard to know. I’ve either made the most of a fairly meagre talent, or I’ve wasted a huge one. And I can’t tell which.

[1] The ‘bump’ trend, popularised by the likes of Diplo and a centrepiece at the sceney Miro restaurant in Mayfair, sees the diner enjoy the fish eggs off the back of their hand in the manner of other expensive substances.

Want more opinion pieces? Read about the reasons behind Francis Bourgeois’ love of trains…

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