2012 will be remembered for all kinds of reasons. Felix Baumgartner’s skydive, Usain Bolt in the 100 metres final, the discovery of the God particle… For me, it will always be enshrined as the year that food went completely mad.
The first evidence that food had altogether lost the plot arrived in April when Pizza Hut introduced its hot dog stuffed crust to the UK. Previously road-tested in Qatar and the Philippines, this rare delicacy delivered exactly what it promised.
It was a large hot dog sausage coddled in the crust of a sticky pizza. If ever there was a culinary invention waiting to happen, this was it. Feeling peckish? Can’t decide between a pizza and a hot dog? No problem. Have them both at once in one delicious, lip-smacking package.
Further investigation showed just how far ahead of the curve Pizza Hut was in the field of barmy hybrid foods. The company had already wooed the Middle East with its self-explanatory Crown Crust Cheeseburger Pizza. Meanwhile, the supermarket chain Iceland was doing a roaring trade in its doner kebab pizza range (a bargain at a quid a pop).
There was a time when weird food hybrids were the sole preserve of pregnant ladies, the under-fives and Americans. A woman with child was at the mercy of her cravings and wouldn’t think twice about dipping chips into butterscotch ice cream. Toddlers would squirt tomato ketchup onto their banana splits simply because they were too young and stupid to know any different. Americans would feast on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for reasons known only to themselves.
For the rest of us, the general consensus was that there should be a certain amount of demarcation when it came to food. Sweet and savoury should always be kept apart, especially when ham and pineapple were involved. Eating hot dogs and pizza was all very well – but not at the same time. Weird food combinations should be left to students during rag week and the inhabitants of lunatic asylums.
Of course, the deep-fried Mars Bar changed all this. When that particular caloric coma introduced itself to Scotland in the mid-‘90s, nothing would be the same again, including waistlines. Now, finally, the world is sitting up and taking notice. The hot dog pizza has opened the floodgates. Anything goes now. If it can be imagined, it can be scoffed.
Waiter! Bring me a plate of pastrami and chicken lard on a blueberry bagel with strawberry cream cheese, side order of chocolate-covered shrimp and a fudge-and-sausage milkshake to wash it all down. And, while you’re at it, bring me a hot dog made with real dog. A spaniel will do just nicely.