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James Francis
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Serving Suggestion

26 February 2013, 10:00
I have often wondered how lunch is served at the dinner tables of food conglomerate executives. It is a given that they are not scoffing down on brine-drowned revamped chicken. As the saying goes, once you know how sausages are made... But still, judging by food packaging they must lead an interesting culinary lifestyle. For one thing, I think they eat all their fish raw.
The root of this suspicion lies in their packaging.

If you grab a box of hake cutlets, freshly liberated from the vast ocean that so unfairly keeps us from our rightful wild fish, it proposes on the cover that you try it raw. Seriously, it’s right there: a slab or two of uncooked hake, garnished with a lemon or something colourful, tied together with that omnipresent phrase “Serving Suggestion”. As far as some marketing type sees it, satiating my need for protein is a simple matter of a thaw and some lemon away. It’s a pity I didn’t buy any lemon...

‘Serving Suggestion’ is, of course, mainly legal hogwash - a safeguard for those idiots out there who need safety warnings that reveal open flames and gas canisters are not good combinations. Not that a bit of fish will explode on you, but apparently there have been people who demanded to know why the lemon on the box is not present inside it. What may seem obvious to some have pushed other to harass said companies, leading to a ridiculous piece of legal boilerplate. So I get why the box has to say that - otherwise people might start thinking there is a bowl in the cereal box and consequently demand it when they find they have been wronged in the most terrible of ways.

Still, raw fish? That seems to be taking it a bit far and certainly goes beyond the literal suggestion of how you ought to eat the stuff. A box of curry powder displays a delicious-looking stew, presumably to which said powder is added. I can see where I went wrong there. And a package of powdered vetkoek mix helpfully hints that I should make vetkoek out of these. Good thing too: eating the raw powder was not giving me the desired effect.

‘Serving Suggestion’, it seems, is not actually a suggestion at all. Instead it’s that line drawn between the food companies pimping their goods and the idiots who believe everything they read on a box. It even gets quite asinine. On a tin of chopped tomatoes, the image of chopped tomatoes is accompanied with ‘Serving Suggestion’. So in other words, chopped tomatoes are... chopped tomatoes? I’m starting to see why I never made it as a chef...
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