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In Praise Of...

Ferrero Rocher Naans

by Jonathan Nunn

In his 1983 travelogue Sans Soleil, the filmmaker Chris Marker advocated for “those memories whose only function was to leave behind nothing but memories,” the moments in our lives which may be banal, perhaps meaningless, but leave their after-image imprinted on us. 

In the same spirit, I would like to advocate for “those meals of no nutritional value whose only function is to leave behind nothing but indigestion.” Those meals of no culture, of little skill, of questionable provenance, whose premises should have been interrogated in their formative design stage and thrown out entirely. Foods that do not adhere to any good notions of taste of propriety. Senseless foods. Foods of chaos.

The food writer and Delhiite Sharanya Deepak recently described these dishes to me using a beautiful Hindi term "Bakchodi vaala khaana" which can be translated as ‘foods eaten simply to fuck around.’ South Asian food has some good pedigree here. In this valuable genre of foods you can find Delhi’s own tandoori momo, Karachi’s Zinger parathas and pizza samosas. It is a genre that includes Korean corn dogs made to look like pineapples with cubes of potato, French tacos, and the Domino’s Japan fish and chip pizza, created to enrage and enthrall Italians and Brits alike.

In London, the epicentre of this food is Whitechapel. Rather than the no-go zone it’s been portrayed as in the right wing press, or the crime-ridden slum of Victoriana, it is now a district where the only criminal transgressions are culinary: doner kebab quesadillas, masala fries served in martini glasses, naga burgers. In my line of duty as a restaurant writer I would usually avoid these atrocities, but lockdown and being bored of my own cooking has somewhat broken me. This is how I ended up eating, in a completely sober and sound state of mind, a Ferrero Rocher naan.

This Ferrero Rocher naan was basically the aspirational Pakistani version of a Nutella pizza, one-upped as a dare. It was filled with a layer of crushed chocolate and hazelnut, topped unnecessarily with chocolate sauce, butter, and a single, solitary globe of Ferrero Rocher. It transcended notions of sweet and savoury, Pakistani and non-Pakistani, good and bad. There needs to be more place for this kind of food, whose value is not social, nor nutritional, cultural or conceptual, but recreational. Food that we can only describe with regret and shame the next day. Food that has the capacity to outrage some, enthrall others, and allows the rest of us to sleep easy, simply knowing that that it exists.

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