Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Martine McCutcheon, Danone Activia

I must begin with a disclaimer. My mum tutors Maisie Smith, whose EastEnders character Tiffany is named in memory of the character played by Martine McCutcheon, so I apologise in advance if this review smacks of nepotism as a result. Let's not forget though that on EastEnders, Martine's Tiff was involved in many groundbreaking storylines, most notably the one where her boyfriend cheated on her with her brother that invented male homosexuality (lesbianism dates back to Sappho, naturally). She is an Olivier award-winning actress after all, but her My Fair Lady co-star Jonathan Pryce was reportedly none too pleased about her receipt of this accolade, and I think we can all trust JP because he was Sam Lowry in Brazil, and I'm sure we can all agree to agree with me that that's one of the best films ever.

Martine's most significant role besides Tiff was as Hugh Grant's Prime Minister's love interest in Richard Curtis' Love Actually, a film which, inspite of myself, I seem to enjoy a little more each time I see it. I'm always troubled by how misogynistic it is though. Don't believe me? Well, to quote my good friend Loyd Grossman, let's look at the evidence. Laura Linney is in love with her company's 'enigmatic' (i.e. boring) chief designer, but nothing comes of it as she responsible for her mentally unstable, abusive brother. Kim Bauer, Betty Draper and an actress who hasn't had a major TV role are easy enough to sleep with the guy from the BT ads, not in spite, but rather because of him coming from Bas Vegas (this being Curtisland, American girls are hotties and British girls are notties, hence why they are always desperate for a 'shag'). Emma Thompson is made to feel guilty for not being a sexy secretary who wanders around in her underwear, Keira Knightley is made to feel guilty for not being in love with two men and the girl who doesn't speak English is made to feel guilty for not speaking English. And what about our Martine? Well comments are consistently made about the size of her arse and thighs, and she is referred to as fat, chubby and plumpy, despite the fact that she is clearly none of the above. Curtis' thesis is that the arrivals gate at Heathrow is a place of concentrated love, and yet what are the words Hugh says to Martine at said gate at the end of the film? "God, you weigh a lot." Richard, I think you'll find that's not love, actually.


Martine is fronting Danone Activia's campaign for 2010 being the year of TLC. Turns out they mean the concept of Tender Loving Care and not T-Boz, Left Eye and Chilli, they of incredibly dated album covers.

While Martine is fronting this campaign, she appears nowhere on the packaging. I think this is because they don't want to deter people like me from buying it. By that I don't mean people who write a blog reviewing celebrity-endorsed food, because based on a sample of me I can tell you that that sizeable demographic will buy anything with a celeb's face on it. No, by 'people like me' I mean men, as I assume Danone felt it might make it appear too girly. That or Richard Curtis phoned them up and told them that if they had a morbidly obese girl on the pot they couldn't really sell it as low-fat.

I can't help feeling they've missed a trick here. Rather than use Gimme Some Lovin' by the Spencer Davis Group, they should have used Martine's UK number one, Perfect Moment, to suggest that a moment with Activia Intensely Creamy is indeed perfect. Turns out though that Perfect Moment is actually a cover! Who knew?

I'd have to say though that a moment with an Intensely Creamy yogurt isn't perfect actually - if anything they are too creamy, and the creaminess overpowers the headlining flavour. Plus, unlike the normal Danone Activia, which comes in standard yogurt pots, they come in round pots made of sturdier plastic which, while admittedly easing your worries about potential splits and spillage inside a tightly packed bag, do tend to remind me of those balls that you put laundry detergent in. And detergent is not the kind of taste sensation I want to be thinking about while eating a yogurt. So unless you've got a full-blown cream and detergent fetish, I'd recommend just getting a fruit multipack, but not the one with old people's flavours like fig and prune.

Martine McCutcheon: 5.5/10
Danone Activia Fruit: 7/10, Intensely Creamy: 6/10, Average: 6.5/10
Total: 12/20

Sunday, 8 August 2010

A broadcast on behalf of Conspirators of Pleasure

With this blog at risk of becoming sports star overkill, I've decided to expand my remit to include food products that, while not featuring a celebrity on the packaging, are quite clearly endorsed by one in adverts. The bonus being that I may be able to ponder why the celebrity is not deemed worthy of appearing on the product itself. I hope that this change will not result in regular readers leaving in droves.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Lawrence Dallaglio, Dallaglio by Sacla' Bolognese Sauce

The jars in the Dallaglio by Sacla' range feature the ugly mug of Lawrence (I'm not too worried about Lawrence knocking down my door, given that rugby's seemingly designed to leave participants with cauliflower ears, gap-strewn smiles and, in the case, of our erstwhile leader, partial blindness), alongside his father Vincenzo, who shall henceforth be referred to as Papa Dallaglio, because I'm in a lazy, stereotyping mode.

I went to a rugby-playing school and I had to de-spectacle when we did rugby in games lessons, and, to cut a long story short(-sighted), I couldn't see too well. Having said that, I'm not sure there's actually anything more to that story. Anyway, I think we can say for certain that it was only my myopia that prevented me from having a professional rugby career.

I've always found it jarring when the brutish play of the game is followed by post-match interviews with well-spoken, intelligent players, contrasting with the cliche-riddled inanities of football players. It's also interesting that football has a burgeoning metrosexualism, while rugby has long had an aura of homoeroticism. And yet rugby only has one openly-gay professional in the warmly received Gareth Thomas. Football had Justin Fashanu. Who was ostracised. And hanged himself. Way to go, football!

In my extensive research into big LD (read: I read his Wikipedia page) I discovered that the greatest thing he ever did (worth a two point mark-up) was to sing in the choir on Tina Turner's panpipe-laden power ballad classic We Don't Need Another Hero from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. I'm surprised no-one razzed him with this by playing it instead of Land of Hope & Glory before the kick-off, perhaps on the entirely hypothetical Matt Dawson's World Cup Wind-Ups.

I'd like to think I'm fairly well acquainted with the range of pesto from Sacla', but I never realised before reviewing this that they have a crazy apostrophe at the end of their name. I've no idea what it's there for (the name's an acronym for the Societa Anonima Commercio Lavorazione Alimentari, roughly, the Anonymous Society of the Food Processing Trade, hmmmm) so I like to think it's there just because they bloody well felt like it. I wholeheartedly support this practice, as I view a name as an abstraction and, as such, Sacla' and the B-52's should be allowed to punctuate their names as they please, if only to get the goats of Trussites everywhere.

In their bolognese sauce, Lawrence and Papa Dallaglio have put a glug of Barbera wine (glug being an SI unit, with the standard held in Geneva, Switzerland). Now I'm teetotal, but I'm not bothered by a bit of alcohol in my food. It's not like it's a purity issue for me, as it is with straight-edge types who have "poison-free" tattooed on their chests, apparently unaware of the irony. I did call myself straight-edge for about a week before I realised it was too much effort explaining what the ruddy term meant to people.

I don't know what the person who wrote the label was on, as they recommend using as measly 100g of mince, I found I had to double that. Other than that though, I've not got much to complain about it. It's got a nice, rich flavour, and the chunks of tomato add a rustic quality that puts it in a different league from glorified tomato purees from the likes of Dolmio.

Lawrence Dallaglio: 8/10
Bolognese sauce: 8/10
Total: 16/20