There is a hidden health time bomb now ticking under the affluent middle classes – nibbles.
Health experts are increasingly worried about the effects of binge canapé-ing. This takes place mainly at Sunday lunchtimes at events known to the initiated as “drinkies”. Vast amounts of smoked salmon mousse are consumed on these occasions and guacamole is known to be freely available.
The authorities are bracing themselves for a massive increase in canapé consumption this autumn.
One observer in Weybridge commented: “It’s a nightmare. People are afraid to go out at midday on Sundays because the streets, drives, avenues, crescents and closes are full of members of the affluent middle classes who are high on filo pastry. They slam car doors and shout ‘ciao’. I gather it’s even worse in some parts of Kent.”
The tragedy is that these people do not realise what they are doing to their health. Many of them are so occupied with social banter at drinkies occasions that they will take a rolled-up piece of bacon from the plate held in front of them without bothering to inquire what might be wrapped inside it. Too often, they are surprised by a lurking prune.
Stab wounds from cocktail sticks have been the subject of numerous warnings, but, amazingly, they are still occurring. Men put used sticks in their pockets, then, two or three days later, stab themselves in the hand when reaching for their BlackBerries. Now, though, the numbers of cocktail-stick wounds have been overtaken by tortilla-chip injuries. Sharp corners of tortilla chips can damage throats, but they are a real danger when held by anyone who tends to gesticulate extravagantly.
Far too many men are ignoring warnings about telling anecdotes while eating a mini vol-au-vent. They not only run the serious risk of a pre-punchline choking fit, but they can also spray pastry flakes that may blind listeners standing too close. Caterers serving vol-au-vents are supposed to provide goggles.
Official guidelines from the Department of Health say the safe taramasalata limit for men should be five units a week and for women four. A unit is defined as a “moderate blob” on something the size of a Ritz biscuit. The trouble is that people at a social gathering are often unaware of how many times they have plunged their tortilla chip into the passing bowl of goo.
The Government will be running a pre-Christmas campaign to urge the affluent middle classes to observe the rules of “responsible dipping”. A poster campaign will show a picture of a queasy chartered surveyor with the caption: “Another mini sausage roll? You know you shouldn’t!”
There may also be a series of shocking TV commercials showing people at a drinks party reaching for the nibbles tray, not noticing that it carries “triangles of death” – little triangles of toast with blobs of cream cheese and chives shaped into skulls.
Experts say something must be done to get rid of the “canapé culture”. Nibbles seem so harmless, but you wouldn’t think so if you saw the effects on a 40-year-old professional man who has gorged himself on 17 mini Scotch eggs.
There is now a dangerous fashion sweeping the socially ‘in’ village of Nether Wallop for potent canapé cocktails, such as the “Snog on the Millenium Green”, which is a blini topped with houmous, a roulade of smoked salmon smeared with parsley, a smidgin of a caviarish substance and two chicken satays – with a stuffed-olive chaser.
The most popular is still “Nichole’s Nuts” – three choux puffs in quick succession, a “more-ish” mini quiche, a cocktail sausage, a cube of pineapple and a “scampi thing”, all topped with a pickled walnut.
A concerted campaign to educate the affluent middle classes will soon be launched, with community workers giving talks at bridge clubs, gyms and Pilates classes and in the more expensive kitchenware shops.
Leaflets will be distributed in neighbourhoods that are known to be up and coming. The theme of all this will be: “Nibbles – Just Say ‘No, Thanks Most Awfully, I’ve Had An Adequate Sufficiency’.“