I’m better now, but I was curious to see how friends and total strangers reacted to news of my surprisingly mundane illness. The answer? They shunned me, of course. Even my usually very loving parents, who nurse most of my real and imaginary sicknesses, found it icky and banned me from their house.
Cooking: too tiring. Eating out: lepers not wanted. This left me with just one option, Marks and Spencer food. I figured, since I’d have no life for the next week and wouldn’t be spending any money on going out, that I could afford to splurge. The bill, for about three days of delicious meals and treats, came to €69.52. Discounts and special offers brought the price down to €55.31.
Before you all scream about a conflict of interest, I know that Marks and Spencer are an occasional advertiser on this site. However a) I’m not pretending to love their food b) their food has eerily dominated my very sad private life for the last week so I haven’t a huge amount else to say today and c) their food isn’t always perfect all the time, as I mention below.
Fish and Chips
There’s too many nice things to write about, so I’ll just mention a few. Firstly, the overall winner must be M&S’s unbeatable Fish and Chips. I picked up two substantial packets for €4.25 (usually only €2.99 each), and although Snack Box and I both whined bitterly about how small the packet seemed, it fed us both for the whole evening. The fish was fresh and delicate, while the batter was light and crispy (as opposed to stodgy and floury a la Donegal Catch). One of the best value dinners I’ve ever had.
Sweet, sweet chicken
Plum and Ginger Chicken Thighs cost €4.99. Really succulent chicken and excellent seasoning. I went over all Oirish and had it with potatoes and vegetables, but I reckon they’d be lovely with rice.
The thighs were on offer: buy one, get one half-price (I’m such a sucker for those M&S offers). But I can’t say that I equally enjoyed their counterpart, the Peppered Chicken Breasts, which are seasoned with sea salt, black pepper, coriander, paprika and mustard seed. They were nice, but the overwhelming flavour was salt: I can’t say I’d try them again.
Lasagna and… em, blueberries
Much more successful were the well-balanced flavours and creamy textures of the Asparagus Lasagna (€4.49). Finally, a vegetarian lasagna that didn’t feel like it’s come straight from the office bain-marie, and doesn’t contain – put on your best pale imitation of an stereotypical rural Irish mammy’s voice – “Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables”. Lastly, there was a buy one get one free offer packets of superbly fresh, swine-flu busting, sweet blueberries (€3.49 each), so I stocked up the freezer.
M&S display all their UK special offers here. The same offers, with euro prices, are usually available in Ireland, although I’d like to see an Irish M&S website.