Thursday, 15 August 2013

The King Of Leftovers

The King is coming... The King is coming home... Up and down the streets this news was passed along like Chinese Whispers, whispered from house to shop, and between lovers friends and neighbours, until it got tweeted and it became a lion's roar: THE KING OF LEFTOVERS IS COMING HOME! The local paper even printed an inside guide on how to prepare for his return. People planned their meals and only bought what they needed; they used up or froze anything edible or composted it; while others new to loving food and hating waste wrote questions down to ask him. Excitement soared as the big day drew nearer and the posters pasted everywhere declared his imminent arrival.
With one day to go, roads were closed, bunting was strung, and collapsible tables and chairs were unfolded. Shops donated their discarded food and volunteers set up their stretch-food-more stalls. Anticipation hung in the air like the delicious smell of baking bread. Appetites whetted, many people didn't want to go home and camped out that starry night. People gathered round blazing bins and sang, played instruments or told stories, only retiring to line the processional streets with their sleeping bags and woolly hats.
For these devotees, the big day began with the King's Golden Tip: leftover-made soup in a mug, and anyone that camped was not allowed to refuse, to choose to go hungry. Breakfast, as the King said, was not a meal to be skipped. By ten o'clock, the crowd had swelled and been whipped up to a feverish pitch. “We want the King!” “We want the King!” They chanted, but soon grew quiet at the sound of distant tom-toms. A fevered whisper of “He's coming!” rippled through the throng.
Two tom-tom beaters appeared at the top of the high street, with the King's tall, masculine figure dribbling a basketball behind them. He had dressed for his home crowd on this special occasion: his chef hat upright on his head and in a singlet with baggy shorts and trainers, and with both his biceps tied with a band of banana leaves. He confidently dribbled the ball and shot a few hoops at the baskets strategically placed en route. The crowd whooped as he scored and cheered even more when he gave his basketball away to a wide-eyed boy.
The King high-fived hands until he reached his outdoor cooking station, where he rattled his pots and pans like Ainsley Harriott as he made his signature dish: Banana Skin Curry. Volunteers dispersed tasters in tupperware with leaflets of the recipe, and as they supped the King talked. He began by thanking them for their support, and briefly touched on the success of his UK tour along with his appearances on TV. He said he was on the road to driving the message home: Love Food, Hate Waste, but he had a long way to go. As the crowd listened, rapt by his speech, they observed he had the passion of a Jamie Oliver or a James Martin, and that he too was a force to be reckoned with.
When the applause died, a orderly queue formed for people to meet the King and put to him their leftover questions directly. Some had even brought bags filled with stale bread and over-ripe fruits, and with each he patiently explained a nugget of his Food Waste Philosophy. He made children laugh, encouraging them to try new foods and let them help him in demonstrating another one of his recipes. He visited stalls and talked to shop-keepers, students, and parents; all those who believed in him and supported his campaign.
As the street party came to an end, he held up his hand with a firm “Hush” to the crowd, and imparted a last piece of his wisdom: Keep in mind that leftover food is like poetry. It feeds your mind, body and soul, you should not waste it.