Pasta, pizza, and military cowardice: The gammon food critic goes Italian

Restaurant reviews by Justin Tanner, our retired food critic for whom capital punishment doesn’t go far enough

I’VE never liked Italy. Opera, fussy paintings and footballers rolling around on the floor like they’ve been shot. 

And that’s before you mention the war. Side-swapping cowards joining whoever was winning. If they sent tanks to help Ukraine they’d reverse all the way to fucking Dover.

But their food’s meant to be alright, I always liked Sophia Loren and I’m by no means a prejudiced person, so I took the trip to the new Italian ristorante, or possibly trattoria. I don’t speak the language because our side won the war.

Ordering drinks? Keep in mind that their wine is shite. Weak, acidic and unpleasant. Order three bottles, like I do, and it’s the equivalent of one pint. Neck it like it’s water on a boiling day.

The menu? 500 different names for pasta. Linguine, rigatoni, fusilli, penne; the list goes on interminably because they mint a new name for every new shape. Pointless. Do you see Heinz dreaming up 26 names for a tin of Alphabetti Spaghetti? Exactly.

They don’t have spaghetti bolognese. The waiter, who has the effrontry to actually be Italian, informs me there’s no such dish in Italy. So I made it up, did I? I go for pizza instead, which has been a staple Italian dish since the very earliest days of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But what I get is, to say the least, disappointing.

No proper toppings like tandoori chicken, pineapple or jalapenos. No stuffed crust. Flat, thin and nothing more palatable than anchovies, mozzarella and tomato sauce. I need a fourth bottle of lambrini to wash it down.

It shouldn’t surprise me, from a country so lacking in culinary gravitas it named a biscuit after its most celebrated general and honored its greatest explorer with a mint with a hole in it.

I order tiramisu and, spirits buoyed by the meal almost having ended, I join in with the incessant Pavarotti they’re piping in. I’ve always fancied myself as that lad off the Go Compare adverts. But as I reach my crescendo I’m taken under each armpit and frog-marched out.

‘How the fuck was I meant to know it doesn’t translate to just one Cornetto?’ I ask the manager. ‘What’s the matter? Still throwing your hissy fit over the Treaty of Versailles?’ which gets me dumped on the pavement and told, in surprisingly decent English, to go fuck myself.

Taking a leaf out of their book, I offer no resistance and beat a retreat, having not paid the bill. Stupid bloody Italy. They lose every time.

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A confused Millennial discovers… Nazis aren't fictional

by Josh Gardner, who believes Britain still rode horses to work until 1979

ME and the Nazis go way back: the Wolfenstein games, the Nazi zombies in Call of Duty and Dead Snow, and of course as a point of comparison on the internet. 

Yes, I love the Nazis. We’ve had some good times together. I never once suspected they were real, historical and you know the worst thing? Majorly racist.

It all began in my history lesson, when Mr Holness said we’d be covering the rise of Nazism next week. I was down for that because I remember that period on social media, roughly 2012 to 2016, and it was awful.

Bit weird doing it in A-level, but I figured maybe we’d get to watch Sky Sharks, an incredible movie where the Nazi zombies fly sharks. In fact I suggested it, only to get slapped down. ‘We are going to be covering Nazi zombies?’ I asked.

‘To my knowledge, no Nazi has ever become a zombie,’ Mr Holness replied, ‘because zombies are non-existent and the Nazis, a political party that flourished in Germany between 1920 and 1945, are real. Really real. ‘

Well fuck me. I thought they were a metaphor, like the Devil. Something to call your opponent in Twitter arguments. I thought they had to be made up because no-one’s that evil.

Always shouting and wearing black leather uniforms, torturing people, inventing all the best weapons like flying saucers and mechs. And Hitler? Who’s convinced by him?

But they were real, they actually happened less than a century ago, and they killed six million Jews, which is terrible actually. And they were no better with the LGBTQ+ community. Plus they were ableist.

So all these brilliant characters I loved: Hitler, Red Skull, the clockwork guy from Hellboy – were racists and homophobes. I’m almost ashamed to mention Unteroffizier Renate Richter from Iron Sky because that involved a fair bit of wanking.

Well. I feel like someone just pissed on my childhood. I blame games developers for presenting a sugar-coated version of the Nazis.

I’ve started a Facebook page called ‘The Campaign for Real Nazism’, which I’m hoping will educate people that the Nazis were A) real, and B) not cool. Although my mum says I should change the name.