No it is not April Fools Day, and yet The Guardian has surpassed itself with its latest attack on ordinary British families: by claiming diners are “chauvinistic” and “smug” for eating Brown Sauce. The bizarre claim came from Tony Naylor, a freelance journalist and DJ at Club Suicide in Manchester.
Mr Naylor spends his article getting very upset at people who eat the condiment, which was previously thought to be harmless. He got excited because research published by the marketing intelligence agency Mintel suggested sales of Brown Sauce has declined by 19 percent. Although he does concede that it is still popular, with 13m kg of the product being consumed in Britain every year.
In the article we are told: “Brown sauce reads, tastes and smells like the idle creation of some Phileas Fogg-type, just back and hugely, over-excited about his adventures in the British empire.” He also claims that, “it is not so much a recipe as chauvinistic flag-waving, a smug, muscle-flexing case of: ‘Look at the size of our spice cupboard.’”
Brown sauce was invented in the 1800s and is considered a cornerstone of a traditional full English breakfast. In fact it is so traditional that the most famous brand ‘HP’ is named after the Houses of Parliament and features a picture of them on the label.
But Naylor sees it as a relic of the British Empire and believes it should be consigned to the dustbin of history. In the article he said: “Just as in the age of empire we ignored or abused indigenous peoples, so too their ingredients. In brown sauce, they were used to produce an unholy trinity of brutal sweetness, acrid spiciness and vile vinegary twang – one peculiarly British in its lack of culinary sophistication.”
He is also highly critical of the origin of the product, which is a Nottingham grocers shop. Perhaps the explanation for this is his own pretentions of grandeur, on his Guardian profile he states his interest in “molecular gastronomy”. For those unfamiliar with this, Wikipedia has a definition: “Molecular gastronomy is a subdiscipline of food science that seeks to investigate the physical and chemical transformations of ingredients that occur in cooking.”
Naylor proudly says he lives in Northern England, whether he grew up there is not mentioned. Such anti-British food snobbery is rarely tolerated in the towns of Lancashire, and as a Northerner myself I know his “molecular gastronomy” wouldn’t have lasted five minutes ’round our way.