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The Grab Bag

A Letter To America

Linda’s record breaking food is heading Stateside, so, attention all Americans – we’d appreciate an Alistair Cooke-like word in your ear… and there’s plenty happening on the British front too. On 10 February Linda travelled to Fakenhan, in Norfolk, to lay the foundation stone for a £10m factory dedicated exclusively to the making of vegetarian food – and in particular her best-selling range of meatless meals. The factory is expected to start producing in October.

Dear America,
Fairmont, Minnesota, is not the sort of town visited by your average New World Tour. (Not that the NWT could ever be called “average”, you understand.)
The first English settlers who came here in 1865 got out quick, not even waiting for the Sioux Uprising hereabouts to put them off the place.
No, it was the cold that sent them packing, and it doesn’t appear to have warmed up much since. At least, it was still under ice in January 1994, when I stepped out of an eight-seater plane and was not so much hit in the face by the winter wind as sledge hammered.
Today, they said, it was “quite mild” – the temperature being minus 40. “Sure, that’s mild, sir,” they insisted. “Why, last week it was 62 below.”
It is so cold in Fairmont, Minnesota, that the guys hereabouts drive their pickup trucks across the lakes. The driver showed me. “Look, here we are, speeding across ice 15 inches thick. Course there are several fathoms of cold, cold water underneath but the last time anybody fell in was… why, I think it was last…” Yes, thank you very much.
Anyways, the point is that given the annual icefall, Fairmont, Minnesota, is not the sort of place that rivals Orlando or California as a first choice for winter sunseekers. In fact, you could possibly spend you whole life working for National Geographic and not know of Fairmont, Minnesota, with its 10,000 residents, 22 lakes and the Indian stone arrowheads you can dig up and date back to 4000 BC.
But I am here to tell you that Fairmont, Minnesota, is going on the map. In years to come, when historians deliberate on why and when the world saw the light and stopped eating animals, Fairmont, Minnesota, will have its glory day. Hallowed will be its name.
Fairmont, Minnesota, is going on the map as the birthplace of the Second American Revolution – The Food Revolution.
For it is here, that the aptly named Fairmont Foods Of Minnesota, that come May Linda’s meatless meals will be cooked for the first time in America. [At last we’re getting someplace – Ed.]
We know you’ve had it tough in the States. In Britain we’ve been eating Linda’s food for three years now – in face we eat so much of it that her range of ready-made veggie dinners is the number one best-seller in the UK. Anyways, as I said, now American is coming to dinner too. From May, Fairmont Foods will be marketing Linda McCartney’s Home Style Cooking in the sizzling shape of spaghetti, lasagne, pasta Provencal, fettuccini primavera, rigatoni marinara, chilli and cheddar, burrito o’le, chilli enchilada and fettuccini alfredo.
What’s in them? I’ll tell you what isn’t in them – meat. Linda used wheat protein and vegetable protein to create these meals – I think you call them entrees – that look and cook like meat but ain’t. Listen, all you really need to know is that the main ingredient is taste.
Would I fib you? Seriously, taste is the test of this stuff. You could feed these meals to a redneck who thinks that vegetarianism is next to communism and he wouldn’t know. You should try it, it’s probably a hell of a laugh.
Of course, being American, you think death is an option – you keep you calorie chart next to your jogging shoes and you worry about what you eat. Worry not because this new food of Linda’s is low in salt (I know you worry about that) and zilch in cholesterol (and you ought to worry about cholesterol – if more people realised the dangers of this little vein-blocker then meat would be off the supermarket shelves overnight).
But the best thing about Linda’s food coming to America is this – all you people out there who want to eat less beef (and that’s 70,000,000 Americans at the last count) get to have some fun food at last. It’s true. Until now the meaties got to eat all the fun stuff – all those burgers and fast foods are made for meaties. Until Linda dawned on us, vegetarian fun food was stew and the nearest we veggies got to fast food was throwing a cheese salad across the room.
But with the entrees, as you insist on calling them, this is whiz food. Forget fast, get your chilli enchilada, whack it in the microwave, ping! and suddenly everyone is asking how you get to have Linda McCartney cooking at your place. (It’s that homey, as you Americans say.)
And if you’re worried about how far Linda Food has been tried and tested you should know that they’re the meatless meals Britain likes the best. And before we even got to eat it I did hear whisper that every dish got the Thumbs Aloft from a certain person known for that sign. (Linda McCartney’s meatless meals – tested on Beatles, not on animals.)
Anyways, I can’t sit around here gossiping. Linda’s meals (alright! “entrees”) will be available from May, initially in Denver, Minneapolis, St Louis and Chicago. If you don’t happen to live near any of those places I suggest you speak very loudly to your local supermarket manager and I’m sure he or she will get on the case.

All the best,
Geoff Baker
PS. I could mention that we’re talking Clear Conscience Cooking here, but I guess you already know that.

From the Spring 1994 #69 issue of Club Sandwich
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