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Savoury panettone? Sometimes, the food industry gets it wrong...

food, savoury panettone? sometimes, the food industry gets it wrong...

This week Waitrose announced what it claims to be a supermarket first: a savoury panettone, which it plans to launch in November – Maja Smend Photography Ltd

The food world runs on innovation. Chefs and product developers constantly experiment in search of the next big hit, a dish that will change the world or simply a chocolate bar that will improve on the KitKat.

It’s why we have pizza (why don’t we put cheese and tomato on that bread?) and it’s why we have Hawaiian pizza (why don’t we add ham and pineapple?).

But every now and then the tinkering can go too far, with gimmicky or flat-out disgusting products falling flat. Often this happens around Christmas, when practically every item on the supermarket shelf or in your local chain cafe has a yuletide theme (essentially, wintry spices where they have no business being).

This week Waitrose announced what it claims to be a supermarket first: a savoury panettone, which it plans to launch in November. Out go the raisins and candied fruit, replaced by Parmesan and black pepper. Admittedly it sounds pretty nice, a soft, buttery bread to create the mother of all Christmas-morning toasts. Could be great with smoked salmon.

But is it necessary when there are already so many suitable styles of bread and, perhaps more pertinently, can it even be called a panettone? One of the core tenets of this Italian cakey bread is that it’s sweet. A savoury panettone, therefore, is something of an oxymoron.

Waitrose, of course, has form when it comes to culinary “innovations”, dating back to when the chef Heston Blumenthal was brought on board. Of course what works as a course at a Michelin-starred restaurant – snail porridge for instance, or a mandarin that’s actually chicken paté – doesn’t always translate to a kitchen supper winner.

And it’s not just Waitrose: smoked salmon, cream cheese and champagne flavoured crisps from M&S is probably a flavour no one asked for. In chasing novelty value, somewhere along the way the taste can get left behind.

There are two camps: those who believe food perfection was reached decades ago and that nothing should be touched, and those who want matcha in everything. Personally, I’m all for tinkering with the classics, providing they still resemble the original (otherwise, just change the name). While a savoury panettone may not be the most egregious of transgressions, here are five times the food industry has got it wrong.

Truffle Marmite

Certain products are used far too frequently in the food world, and truffle is one of the biggest offenders. Attempting to add an air of sophistication, food manufacturers now put it in anything from cheese to crisps. Its funky fungal notes can, when used delicately, be a winner. Not so with truffle-flavoured Marmite, launched earlier this year, which added a wildly powerful hit to the already pungent yeast spread. Marmite Crunchy Peanut Butter was marginally better.

Heinz Chocolate Orange Mayonnaise

food, savoury panettone? sometimes, the food industry gets it wrong...

Heinz Chocolate Orange Mayonnaise

In fairness, this collaboration between Heinz and Terry’s Chocolate Orange was only inflicted on 200 “winners” of a competition, a limited edition that thankfully doesn’t seem to have hit the supermarket shelves. I was unlucky enough to try some, and it’s quite possibly the worst thing I’ve eaten, which isn’t surprising – it’s a mixture of mayonnaise, chocolate orange, creme patissiere and orange oil, for crying out loud.

Bacon tiramisu

Have you ever seen that episode of Friends where Rachel puts beef, peas and onions in a sweet trifle? Have you ever watched it and thought, let’s give it a go? Well, this isn’t quite that but it comes close. The classic Italian pudding of few ingredients has been given an unnecessary makeover in recent years, with recipes slapped all over the internet calling for bacon. Hungry? Thought not.

Cauliflower pizzas

food, savoury panettone? sometimes, the food industry gets it wrong...

Cauliflower pizza base – Facinadora / Alamy

Thanks to low-carb fads, in supermarkets you can now find ready-to-bake cauliflower pizzas. Rather than having a brassica topping, the base is made from whizzed up cauliflowers, or cauli-flour. Dry and unappetising, it’s far less palatable than pizzas made from gluten-free flours.

Bubblegum gin

Gin has reached such a saturation point that it is added to absolutely everything, presumably to get rid of surplus booze. Gin marmalade, gin smoked salmon, gin and tonic popcorn, you name it. It goes the other way, with gin bottles flavoured with far more than juniper. Sweet and sickly bubblegum gin is perhaps the worst in a long line of offenders.

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