A Sainsbury’s Basics Feast

SIMRAN SINGH tries some recession recipes

“This food’s going to be horrible, I know it.”, "Well, maybe not if you cook it well". Unfortunately, the cooking apparatus we had at our disposal was composed of a kettle full of pasta, a microwave in which some fairly dubious excuses for soup (we will get onto this later) had exploded, and a dirty toaster. Complaints for this dire scenario to the Bursar, Emmanuel College, please.

Nevertheless things were looking up for the Sainsbury’s Basics Feast. Needless to say the big plus for this whole endeavour is the cost, or rather the considerable lack thereof. Enough food to cover the appetites of at least a whole boatful of shoddy 4th Division rowers after bumps comes to less than you need to get drunk enough to enjoy Cindie’s. When you’re on the vodka.
Bearing this in mind, and so adjusting for the fact that sweatshop workers would be too expensive to produce this food, our entirely unqualified opinions follow below.


Soup: “The lesson here is, if you want to eat Basics, be a vegetarian.” The crème of tomato was actually pretty good, with a bit of Basics bread (only comes in white, mainly because it has never seen a whole grain) to soak it up. There is no real way they could fail to mash up the tomatoes too ugly to sell and cook them up in a big pot. However, the chicken soup, if it can be called that, made my fellow diners retch. (I have later been informed by those who shall not be named that they lap it up daily. There’s no accounting for taste).


Bruschetta: This was an adventurous choice, and we actually produced a dish from the base ingredients. That is, some more thin sliced bread and tinned pre-diced tomato. Unfortunately the experiment teaches that it is best to stick with the basics when eating Basics. "I didn’t know it was supposed to be this cold…it’s so mushy! Loses its charm after the 1st mouthful…utterly loses it by the 3rd." As it looks pretty good and the first taste isn’t ridiculously horrible, you could serve it as finger food in really small sizes at a pretentious party. And then hope no-one wants a second go.
Liver Paté: "Smells like animal food…tastes alright."


Tortellini with a Tomato and Herb Sauce: Actually very impressive. The spinach and ricotta reminded the tongue of those actual foodstuffs, the sauce was tasty and of a reasonable consistency. What’s more, "You can microwave it in the pot – that’s convenient…better than Dolmio’s." Unfortunately, our side salad was somewhat of a different matter. Whilst cheap, we adjudged it a false economy as you got a couple of normal lettuce leaves and a shit load of inedible raw cabbage. I needn’t describe further.
Pud: Basics crème caramel is acceptable. But really, if you’re looking at eating out of a small plastic pot with tear-off lid, yoghurts, chocolate mousse, and the like set their sights much lower and hit the target better.


What is a good feast without copious amounts of booze? In the name of science, we boldly hit beer (both types, of course), and the wine (both types). Also notable are the two litres bottles of water, 13p still and a penny cheaper for sparkling (!?). Unfortunately, the verdict is not spectacular. Get it out of a tap.

The lager was weak and pissy, but that is no different from any so-called beer you can buy in Cambridge these days. Unfortunately the ale was indistinguishable; potentially the difference is some brown paint. While the white was drinkable, as no real taste was actually aroused by its presence, so you could down with impunity, at £2.43 something on offer at about three quid has to be the better prospect. The red didn’t even manage that. It had massive legs, like a girl you would really rather not see in those leggings, shined slightly like an oil slick, and tasted of thick poorly-made vinegar. Avoid, like Gonville & Cauis college, because they have swine flu.