For people who care about their food

Delia Smith says ready meals are “sad”

A friend sent me a link to a story about Delia Smith in her local paper, Norwich’s Eastern Daily Press:
Delia: Television wants celebrities rather than proper cooking

My jaw dropped when I saw it. Proper cooking? Is that what you call tinned mince and frozen mashed potatoes? According to the article, Delia’s days on the small screen looked as though they were over, after her latest series Through The Decades finished…

But now, to the relief of all those who hanker after sensible, practical cookery, it’s been announced Delia will be back on TV before Easter – in a new series of commercials for upmarket food store Waitrose.

And then there’s this bit about ready meals:



And she has ready meals in her sights: “Ideally, I’d like to help wean people off them. There’s something quite sad about them – and they don’t taste anywhere near as good as cooking for yourself from scratch.”

Cooking from scratch? That doesn’t exactly tie in with what she’s got on her own website.

Here’s Delia’s recipe for a very quick moussaka. Note well the list of ingredients, which include:

  • 1 x 425g tin minced lamb (preferably Marks & Spencer)
  • 1 x 300g pack vegetable ratatouille (preferably Marks & Spencer)
  • 1 x 300g tub ready-made cheese sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ready-grated Parmesan cheese

Oops, it looks like she’s recommending M&S products. Oh well, perhaps her new paymasters Waitrose won’t mind. As for tinned mince, urgh! I don’t even buy mince – I make it myself. A pack of vegetable ratatouille? I can’t really comment as I’ve no idea what such a thing would be like. I’d just take a few Mediterranean vegetables, chop ’em up and saute them and add a tomato-based sauce. Ready-made cheese sauce? Why? It’s not hard to make – you just add grated cheddar to a white sauce. And ready-grated Parmesan? That stuff usually smells like spew. What’s so hard about using some freshly grated? Very easy, especially if you have the right kit.

Having said all that, I do (for a change) totally agree with something Delia Smith said: “There’s something quite sad about them – and they don’t taste anywhere near as good as cooking for yourself from scratch.”

But how she can reconcile that statement with tinned mince and shop-bought cheese sauce is totally beyond my comprehension.

In the article, Delia goes on to say:

“Now television companies just seem interested in personality and celebrities, rather than proper, easy-to-follow cooking. It’s all about entertainment – they just seem to want it sexed up. I’m seen as boring!”

It’s about proper food, Delia. We don’t want everything to be sexed up. We just want proper food. Ainsley Harriott, for example, is a perfect example of how you can make delicious meals in minutes – FROM SCRATCH! See Gourmet Express or Ready Steady Cook. Yeah, I know I’m a huge fan of his but I think he’s undervalued as a chef because of his, often too silly, funny man approach. Ainsley is a seriously good chef, don’t let him kid you otherwise.

Delia then burbles on about Norwich City, home cooking and the evils of food technology – despite apparently appearing with Heston Blumenthal for some of the Waitrose adverts.

And finally there’s this little gem:

“The recession has done home cooking a lot of good. I think some people are beginning to realise that it’s amazing how much cheaper it can be to buy fresh ingredients and cook for yourself.”

Words fail me.

Any comments? Let’s be ’avin’ yew!

14 Responses to “Delia Smith says ready meals are “sad””

  1. Ted

    Loved the fantasy pairings in the Heston Blumenthal link, especially the Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsay one. I lol’ed!

  2. Not Delia

    Thanks, Ted. I thought the whole article was amusing and I particularly liked that bit too.

  3. Mike the curry fiend

    Ha! By the standard of Delia’s quick moussaka, my supermarket curry the other week was home made. You know I separately microwaved the rice and curry dishes and put them together on a plate with a nan (also in the box) which I’d put in the over for a few minutes. In fact, Delia would be seriously impressed by this but before that I combined some popadoms with some pickle from a jar.

    And what’s the business about celebrities? I don’t see why Gordon Ramsay say is any more of a celebrity than Delia but obviously he isn’t about real cooking because he doesn’t use canned mince, disgusting pre-grated “sick” parmesan and ready made ratatouille.

  4. Not Delia

    LOL! Glad to hear you’re cooking from scratch, Mike. Hope you enjoyed your curry.

    Sure, we all use ready meals and convenience ingredients sometimes. What really got to me was the hypocrisy of spouting off one thing as the so-called queen of British cooking, and then doing entirely the opposite. I also wonder how much she raked in from M&S for recommending their products.

    Oh well, on with the show. I’m hoping to get a recipe for Indian pickled onions uploaded later today (gotta write the piece first, though). I think you’ll like them – unfortunately they take a month to make. 🙂

  5. Mike the curry fiend

    I rarely go for the supermarket curry because I can proudly (or smugly?) say they taste abysmal compared to my own. The exception to that is their naans which although pretty bland are still considerably better than the two very poor attempts I’ve made so far at making them myself.

    The pickled onions sound great but as I’ve been intending to make some of my own pickles and chutneys for about 10 years now and still haven’t got around to it.

  6. Not Delia

    I also buy supermarket naan. I’ve tried making my own but it’s never as good as the shop-bought version. Ainsley Harriott does a sort of quickie version in Gourmet Express (page 116). It’s OK in an emergency but I’d not rave about it.

    Yeah, pickles – it took me a while to get around to it too, but I’ve been getting quite into it recently. I used to love the salted chillies we got from our local Korean restaurant but they closed down, so I had to figure out a way to DIY. So easy! You don’t even need any special equipment. Coming soon…

  7. Ted

    @ Mike no.3 – Pickle out of a jar with your popadoms? Never mind Delia, *I’m* impressed! lol

  8. Mike the curry fiend

    @ Mike no.3 – Pickle out of a jar with your popadoms? Never mind Delia, *I’m* impressed! lol

    It’s a complex procedure balancing the pickle on the teaspoon as you transfer it to the plate 😉

  9. Not Delia

    Gosh! Such a complex procedure. It sounds almost as difficult as boiling an egg. I don’t know if we’ll all be able to cope with such things.

    I don’t suppose you could write a book about it? 🙂

  10. Mike the curry fiend

    Even better, I’ll start a TV series on it.

    And buy a football club.

  11. Not Delia

    Great stuff!

    Which football club would you buy?

  12. Mike the curry fiend

    I’ve no idea. I don’t even like football. 🙁

  13. Kendal Cottages

    I’m flabbergasted that she should put a recipe like that on her website. Presumably that site is meant to act as a flagship of what she can do… perhaps a selection of her very best recipes. But the ‘shortcuts’ are absurd… how long does it take to make a cheese sauce? And why must you buy mince from a supermarket… wouldn’t you be better going to a local butcher or farm shop?

  14. Not Delia

    I assume your questions are rhetorical, I certainly have no answers. There again, you must remember that I am Not Delia.

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