Mr Grumpy: exploding canapés

Canapés should be tasty and easy to eat. They should take the edge off our appetite without sating it. They should be manageable with one hand while the other hand grasps a glass. It’s not rocket science.

The dumpling is too big to pop into your mouth, and if you were able to do that you would die from third-degree burns.

I was recently served a Shanghai soup dumpling as a canapé. They are the culinary equivalent of a roadside bomb. Inside the innocent looking dumpling is a scalding hot broth. The dumpling is too big to pop into your mouth, and if you were able to do that you would die from third-degree burns. I made an exploratory bite into the dumpling, which immediately exploded hot fat down my shirt. I was only slightly comforted to see the same thing happen to other victims.

Hotel canapés are usually prepared days in advance and stored in fridges where they lose any flavour they might have had in the first place. These little cubes of colourful non-food are not meant to be tasty, they are meant to be identical. If I turn one over I fully expect to see “made in China” on the underside.

The dexterity required to manage a crumbly canapé on a napkin with a knotted flax skewer through its centre is beyond all but the most skilled contortionist. If you do manage to eat it what then do you do with the flax skewer and napkin?

I sometimes wonder whether exploding, crumbling or inedible canapes are created for the entertainment of kitchen staff, who then watch guests from a hidden vantage point.

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