Bensoir! It's me, Benjamin. I like to eat and drink. And cook. And write.

You may have read stuff I've written elsewhere, but here on my own blog as Ben Viveur I'm liberated from the editorial shackles of others, so pretty much anything goes.

BV is about enjoying real food and drink in the real world. I showcase recipes that taste awesome, but which can be created by mere mortals without the need for tons of specialist equipment and a doctorate in food science. And as a critic I tend to review relaxed establishments that you might visit on a whim without having to sell your first-born, rather than hugely expensive restaurants and style bars in the middle of nowhere with a velvet rope barrier, a stringent dress code and a six-month waiting list!

There's plenty of robust opinion, commentary on the world of food and drink, and lots of swearing, so look away now if you're easily offended. Otherwise, tuck your bib in, fill your glass and turbo-charge your tastebuds. We're going for a ride... Ben Appetit!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Battle of the blands

In the 1936 German parlimentary 'election', the National Socialist German Workers Party polled 98.8%.

A similarly skewfucked democracy was evident across the internet this week as over 98% of the views on the US Presidential election were pro-Obama (or anti-Romney). That's quite a staggering statistic and the deep, institutionalised conformity saddens me a little.

Admittedly this is based on my own Facebook friends and Twitter feeds, but you'd think that there might be a little more balance, wouldn't you? Especially given that I'm not instinctively sympathetic to the Democratic Party.

The actual result was - as I predicted - a routine Obama win with only a couple of States changing colour but some of the shit people were coming out with was quite baffling.

'If you don't vote for Obama you shouldn't be allowed to vote!11one1'

'Don't let that dangerous nutter get his finger on the nuclear button!11republicanseatbabies11'...

'Well done America, you made the right decision!11fourmoreyears1'... 

And so on.

The audacity of hype

The hyperbole surrounding Obama four years ago was naive, but 'hope' is an ideal through which people can be brainwashed into mass hysteria, as we saw with the man Blair in this country in the mid-1990s.

But now after four years of uneventful Presidency, during which it became obvious to all and cunty that Obama probably isn't the messiah people genuinely believed him to be, the return of the hype is just ridiculous.

The only vaguely 'different' thing about him was that he was black. And even then, he wasn't very black, having far more in common with middle class white America than he does with the streets of Harlem.

Romney was a very poor candidate. The day before yesterday's man. With the day before the day before yesterday's hairstyle. But evil? Really?

A generic president in a 1980s action movie
Look, he couldn't win the GOP nomination last time around, losing out to McCain, who in turn lost badly to Obama, so why the fuck was he given a shot this time around?

He looks quite a lot like how a generic president might have been depicted in a 1980s action movie... but one thing Romney is not is the power-crazed, rabidly radical right-winger that some people seem to believe he is.

He's not a gun-toting Southern redneck, and of all the possible Republican candidates, he was by far the blandest - even his vague posturing towards the right in recent months was entirely unconvincing.

Like Obama, he's essentially moderate, centrist and really rather boring. So the hugely prevalent view that Obama is the saviour of the universe and Romney is the very lifeblood of evil is a bit like saying that McDonald's fries are the tastiest foodstuff on the planet, and Burger King fries are vile, sickening and eaten only by paedophile asylum seekers.

More to the point, it's bad enough that American politics is often a choice between two poor candidates, without twats in Britain trying to convince the American people that the real choice is of just one poor candidate.

Anyway, while I don't often write about US politics - partly because it's so very dull - I do have a tendency for complaining about blandness, wherever it may surface.

I've criticised burgers in pubs, beer in Switzerland, pies at football and God-knows-what-else, with my sharp, thrillseeking tongue, and I'll carry on doing so while so much of the food and drink that the food and drink industry expects to shovel into our fat faces is so desperately insipid and uninspiring.

Bland beer

If anybody wants a couple of bottles of beer - going free, mind - you can have them.

I've got these bottles in my kitchen - nothing unusual about that you might say - but they've been there for over a year now, and the reason I haven't drunk the fuckers is that they are the blandest beer ever.

I bought the four pack of Animée clear beer - a Molson Coors product - when it was first launched. Now it's been taken off the market, having spectularly failed, and I still haven't polished off the last couple.

So, what's it like? Well, it's certainly clear. Perhaps the palest, closest-to-colourless beer I've ever seen.

The taste... hmm... taste... well, it's sort of, no... no, you've got me there.

See, it tastes of so very little that it's difficult to put it into words.

I can tell you what it's not though: It's certainly not hoppy. I'm not convinced any hops at all were harmed in the making of it. But there's no real trace of any alternative flavour adjuncts either. It's not fruity or chocolatey or spicy or coffeeish or any of the other flavours that beer can be.

And it's not got the sort of dull maltiness of mainstream lager brands... just a very slight, insipid sweetness that's subtle to the point of inevidence.

It's thinly-bodied, sort of fizzy (as you'd expect from a product of this kind) and just very, very bland indeed.
According to the marketing wank, Animée was conceived as a beer for women who don't drink or like beer. As a man who likes drinking beer I probably wasn't their target demographic.

I'm just glad I got a good nights sleep instead of staying up watching the Presidential election and drinking Animée clear!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ben.

    First time on Ben Viveur.

    I'm guessing that the sales toss of Animée beer was based on a presumed gap in the market; one that I would argue never existed in the first place. Is there really such a woman out there who doesn't like or drink beer, but would choose Animée because it is served in a multi-coloured bottle? Can people really be that, well, 'bland'?



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