It had to happen one day. And now at last it has happened. The two great traditions of British catering, fast food and health food, have finally come together in an effort to combine the best features of both. The first showpiece of the ‘macro-junk’ industry, as it is already called, is the Whole Body Burger Bar in Covent Garden’s fashionable Box Office Mews, which opened last night to the pop of elder champagne corks and the crackle of banana crisps.
“This really is the most exciting thing to happen to food since fish and chips”, enthused Adrian Wardour- Streete, the PR man whose job it is to nobble cynical pressman such as myself and get them drunk. The great thing about fast food is that there are always long queues of people lining up for it. The great thing about health food is that you can charge the earth for it and get away with it. Here at the Body Burger we’ve finally got it together, and we’re charging the earth for fast food. Like a bite of my Seaweedburger?”
As the waiters swooped to and fro on roller skates (assembled in the Third World from old F-111’s and wholewood wheels), Adrian explained to me that the food image had been quite wrong up to now. It simply wasn’t enough to have little dollops of food packaged in little takeaway boxes, all limp and boring.
“But surely that’s what junk fast food is all about?” I objected.
‘Not junk food, sweety – health food”. Corrected Adrian. “The shelves of normal health food shops are crammed with dreary dried extracts, and pills, and tablets. What we’ve given all that is a bit of pizzazz in the piazza!”
I copied his words down, uncomfortably aware that both of them would probably come out as pizza.
“We’re looking basically for something that will combine the fast food image of the Big Mac with the organic appeal of the compost heap. So we’ve come up with the Big Muck. It’s a burger crammed with all the goodness of alfalfa and soya bean, together with nut relish, inside a sesame bun, with a side-order of chips. It looks like a burger, but tastes like a bonfire, and cost £1.80. Magic.”
But surely chips are not exactly health food?
“And these aren’t exactly ordinary chips. They’re made from Third World softwood, soaked in ethnic water and deep-fried in vegetable oil. They’re catching on like wild fire, I can assure you. Actually, they sometimes burn like wild fire, but everyone has teething problems.”
Among the other new products on offer are whole-meal crisps (five flavours: sunflower seed, pumpkin, pistachio, tequila and California Gold), shampoo-flavoured yoghurts (rosemary ‘n’ lemon, honey ‘n’ balm) and organic edible paper napkins, in peach, apricot and halva.
“What people want is fast food that isn’t fat food”, says Adrian. “You’d be amazed how health-oriented the public is these days, and how much they are prepared to shell out over the odds to get healthy. We respect their wish to overspend. We help them to do it. I can’t think of any other reason why our charcoal grill should be so popular.”
But what’s new about that?
“Plenty”, opines Adrian. “This is the first time that people have paid good money to buy grilled charcoal.”
The Whole Body Burger Bar, at 4c Box Office Mews WC1, is open 24 hours a day, unless it has gone bust meanwhile.