Tuesday 25 May 2021

Lille Guide to Pet Peeves - Part 3 (Eats)

As mentioned in my previous blog post, I began this 'little guide' for fun regarding some of my personal bête-noires. At the moment it's serving to take my mind off other more serious things that have been going on in my life. 

So with no further ado I bring you Part 3 - edibles.


Ugh.  I suppose I never noticed it as much when it was a stick of chewing gum as in Wrigley’s.  (Though my mum hated an advert from the sixties for Wrigley’s Spearmint Chewing Gum with a vengeance).  Wrigley’s Spearmint tastes just nice, never spoils your appetite, I can still hear the catchy little American(ised) ditty and my mother cringing every time she heard it. 

But it wasn’t that which switched me off to spearmint flavour, unless subliminally.  After all, the Wrigley’s was the least offensive to my palette and could be chewed happily alongside the peppermint (though not usually at the same time).  I remember the peppermint Beech-Nut chuddy which had a crisp coat and were individual pillows rather than sticks. You had to chew away the outer coat until it was absorbed into the general mound in your gob.  But maybe I have dim and distant memories of a spearmint flavour too?  A quick google of the stuff shows that there was a spearmint as well as a peppermint flavour.  But I think the main offenders came in the form of those penny Arrow bars, some of which were toffee but others were a pink spearmint flavour (why pink, I have no idea, except maybe pink was more appealing to children). Other offenders are those spearmint flavoured sweets, chews and other minty delights that children buy and you knew the spearmint by its usual colour.Spearmint as a colour for a summer dress or T-shirt I have no problem with – it’s that cloying sweet minty flavour with something nasty lurking in there.  Who could possibly enjoy it?  I just want to spit it out and rinse my mouth out with the real deal – peppermint!

Rowntrees Fruit Pastels

Many childhood sweets and snacks conjure up wonderful memories of  spending our threepenny bits or sixpences in a dark corner sweet shop with rows of jars containing such delights as pineapple chunks, bonbons and peardrops, and a bell that jingled on entering and exiting. Memories of tearing off the packet in a spiral to reveal the next colour in the tube of wine gums or Refreshers and sharing with best friends. But I'm afraid me and those fruit pastels never saw eye to mouth. The sugar coating did indeed disguise something horribly cloying underneath but you'd need a more palatable sweet to rid yourself of the offending aftertaste.

    Ekkanat Sartsoongnern - Unsplash.com

Blue Cheese 

Just picture it. You’re looking forward to the smorgasbord of cheese delights: maybe some smoked Applewood, a bit of creamy crumbly Caerphilly, maybe some cream cheese peppered with - well, peppercorn - or apricot even, and then there’s this ugly stinking thing on the board, like a neighbour from hell, threatening to contaminate your chosen cheese or the knife which you were going to cut a slice of your said favourite cheese. I mean, cheese that stinks and looks as if it’s riddled with mould (it is!) and it’s some people’s idea of cheese heaven. Danish Blue is guilty enough but Stilton takes the biscuit – in fact it kills off the biscuit and everything in its wake. 

PDPhotos - Pixabay.com



I do get the sweet and sour thing; the need for contrast on your taste buds now and again.  I suppose this is why chutney has become the favoured complementary accompaniment to curry.  As a child I hated curry, it’s not the first choice of dish for an infant’s sweet tooth, I suppose that’s why chutney seemed a light relief in comparison back then. But my palate matured into curry while leaving the crude chunky bitterness of chutney behind (especially mango chunky with slimy sweet pieces lurking within the jar).  If you want sweet with curry,  bananas and coconut work fine, thank you very much.


Please let me know me any saving graces about this horrid, stringy, slimy fruit (apart from the fact it may be good for you).  But it’s a goodness I can happily live without.  My sister Ann and I always hated rhubarb as children, followed closely by gooseberry and, for me, blackcurrant (too sharp). But whereas gooseberries could taste faintly juicy picked straight from the bush (if you could get past the hairs) and quite inoffensive in a fool (that is, smothered in cream), rhubarb could have nothing done to it to render it pleasant. You can’t eat sticks of it raw to my knowledge (and why would you want to?) and cooked it becomes the disgusting slimy bitter mush mentioned above.  Some childhood fads you grow out of as your palate develops but to this day rhubarb still remains the bête-noire it always was. 

A friend who once invited Ann and I to stay over, wanted to know if there was anything we didn’t like to eat.  Being non-meaters we’d emphasised that important detail for the main course but hadn’t really thought about puddings.

So imagine our horror when she said she’d got rhubarb crumble for pudding. She said ‘I hope you like rhubarb crumble because I know someone people don’t.’  I had to bite my tongue at that moment to stop it yelling So why serve it up then?!  Of course Ann got in before me and said she didn’t feel like any pudding because her stomach was still a bit wobbly from the journey (it was a perfectly valid and genuine excuse) which left me having to spoon my way painfully through the bitter stringy abhorrence, hoping that the custard and crumble itself would act as suitable masks. 

Then horror of horrors we stayed overnight in her girlfriend’s mobile home and were invited to help ourselves to the coffee cake there on the side the following morning. (See Coffee Cake below)

This picture of rhubarb by julien merceron (pixabay)
also demonstrates the 
ubiquity of the offending whipped cream

Coffee Cake

When I was aged five I had a bad encounter with coffee cake and  never recovered. Maybe I wouldn't have been partial anyway.  But this coffee cake seemed to be one of those two or three storey affairs.  Maybe it just looms large in my memory, carried forward from a time when all things were mega large: schools, teachers, fellow pupils, houses, only to diminish in proportion if you revisit them in later years. But this cake was filled with a rich rum butter filling. I just remember the words ‘rum butter icing’ probably a conflation of the top and the filling, but the icing (though probably sweet and coffee flavoured) wasn't the culprit. But did I spew and puke up on that nasty rich buttery filling and it's been off the menu ever since. I apologise to my mother if it was home-made, because her home made chocolate cakes are to die for.

Cheese & Onion Pasties 

My mother and I share this strong aversion.  Now I do love a quiche, especially a home made one if it contains other vegetables such as broccoli, tomato, courgette, peppers and the onion isn't the predominant flavour.  Now I come to recall it, I'm sure the famous meal with the rhubarb crumble for afters may have had some sort of cheese and onion quiche for the main dish. This isn't one of my sister’s aversions but I think for me the whole meal was a write-off. Maybe it had saving graces in the form of other vegetables. But the worst main course imaginable is one of those cheese and onion pasties that you used to be able to buy circa 1970s. I say used to because I sincerely hope that pasty fillings have improved since then. But if you can imagine a cheesy mush being drowned out with a cheap raw onion taste between thick pasty-pastry you will get a feeling for how disgusting these were.  I have to add that cheese and onion crisps are not far behind in the stakes. They stink, what's more, and if you're ever traveling in a train carriage where someone's just popped open a bag of them, you will want to move seats pronto before you barf if you're anything like me.

Whipped Cream


Strawberry tarts, mandarin tarts, or delicious creamy lemony desserts in a cafe are delicious just as they are, if you are partial to this sort of thing. But so many times they are ruined with a tower of piped mush over the best bits. Many a time I've fancied one of those French pastries filled with fruit and creme patisserie only to find half of it obliterated with the white hat of shame. It doesn't look good, it tastes yuk, and it’s like buying haute couture clothing then covering it with cheap lace from the Pound Shop! What's more it makes a right mess of your mush. 

At least in this delicious looking sweet (monika1607-pixabay)
the offending whipped cream is on the side and not smothering the poor dessert!

Fried eggs 

Boiled eggs for breakfast, done just right with the yoke still hot and liquid, ready for spooning out of the shell into your mouth and dunked with a buttered soldier, now that’s yum. Scrambled eggs on toast, as long as it is creamy and just set (even with runny bits) that’s scrumptious too.  Even poached eggs are passable - clean cooked and usually served with the complementary toast which will absorb any stray yoke.  But who seriously enjoys cold coagulated egg yoke, bleeding its thick yellow over a fat-cratered egg white, frilled with a burnt hem, onto your plate, where it’s joined by cold tomato and other seepages from your Full English? No thanks.

by Alexas_Fotos (Pixabay) 


Not so much a pet hate but very meh. Bland. Vanilla. I don’t mean the lovely homemade sort. My mum used to occasionally make it and it almost had a melt in the mouth soft centre, and straight out of the oven it was rather good. No, it’s those tins which have loads of oblongs perforated with dots and sugar and have this icky aftertaste. Strange because the short in shortbread is obviously due to the high butter content but homemade short crust pastry and - my mum’s shortbread, as already ascertained - didn’t have any of this nasty flavour.

Well, that's all until my next lot. Do share your own in the comments section!


  1. Very enjoyable. Unlike you, I love spearmint much more than peppermint. I adore coffee cake with thick icing and walnuts, like rowntrees pastilles but not the green ones. Love friend eggs but they have to be hot and not cold or tepid (yuck). Like danish blue cheese and stilton is quite nice. Like shortbread but only the homemade stuff as other shortbread is boring. Don't like cheese and onion pasties as they are often very dry, and don't like too much whipped cream (just a little). I loathe rhubarb crumble or rhubarb anything, and the same goes for prunes, dried fruit, and also broad beans.

    1. Thanks Ann! I didn't realise we diverged on so many of these things (rhubarb excepted!)

  2. I'd agree with many of them but like Rhubarb crumble and can't get enough blue cheese with its very strong flavour. Rhubarb is strange when you think about it which I haven't much. Apple crumble is also just as nice.

    1. Thanks Asterick! I love apple crumble, plus plum, cherry and pear. Almost anything but rhubarb although blackcurrant and gooseberry come a close second!